Peter and Paul, Apostles — June 29
This day the Church celebrates two giants of the early Church- St. Peter and St. Paul. Brash, bold Peter was a simple fisherman, called by our Lord to be a firsthand observer and to share his earthly ministry. Paul was a Pharisee, a zealous prosecutor of Christians until his encounter with the risen Christ on the way to Damascus blinded him, but opened his eyes to the truth of the gospel.
The leader of the apostles, St. Peter’s ministry was to the Jews of his time. Jesus said to him “You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church” (Matthew 16:18) and he is acknowledged as first Pope.
St. Paul, an articulate and persuasive preacher, took on the missionary voyages to spread the gospel in far-flung places and is acknowledged as the first apostle to the Gentiles.
Quite different in personality and gifts, these two saints remind us that it is not we who chose Christ, but he who chooses us. And because it is the Lord who calls, we can be sure God has given us the gifts we need to answer “yes”.
First Martyrs of the Church of Rome — June 30
The phrase, “fiddling while Rome burns” is a reference to the Emperor Nero and a fire in Rome that destroyed half the city in 64 AD. Angry citizens blamed the Emperor for the fire. He shifted the focus from him by blaming in turn the Christians in the city. This began a terrible persecution against the early Church during which many hundreds of the faithful were tortured and killed. It seems that something about the lives of these early Christians set them apart from the rest of the populace, for Pope Clement I writes of them, “It was through jealousy and envy that the greatest and most upright pillars of the Church were persecuted and struggled unto death.” The courage of these martyrs cannot help but give us the strength to follow Jesus no matter the cost.
-taken from Steward Saints for Every Day