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The Holy Bible is a bottomless ocean of God’s zealous and steadfast love, which nurtures the spirit of man to thrive with life in abundance. Man is greatly influenced by the world, which quite often is a result of his want to please his flesh, even if it were for a moment’s pleasure. Faith is corrupted and can even be lost when pleasure is allowed to erect false gods in man’s heart. Man permits this contriving when he willingly diminishes the reality of God for whatsoever reason(s).
There are those who outrightly reject God, His existence and the ways through which they can know about Him. There are those who limit God’s intervention in their lives, based on their needs met. Then there are also those who are self-righteous and think that they’ve attained enough ‘holiness’, and so need not bear further crosses, make no further sacrifices, give no more love and serve none anymore.
On the other hand, those who are known to be heroes in the history of man’s salvation, impress upon men, the remarkable surrendering of their will, which so easily and so many times, was allured by the world. This they could do, persistently, because they were aware of the reality of God and of the fact that their life on earth and life in eternity, totally and completely depends on God.
Today, the Catholic Church celebrates the lives of two luminous witnesses of Christ, who were by no means consistent in righteousness or faithfulness to the Master they served, oh so zealously. St. Peter and St. Paul, two men chosen by our Lord Jesus, uniquely different in personalities and personal backgrounds, bestowed with unique personal vocations which will transform the world until it’s very end.
Simon bar Jonah, an uneducated, poor, unknown, fisherman from Galilee, was called by our Lord Jesus to become his disciple while he was busy with his daily occupation – fishing. This is an interesting aspect of the Christo-methodology of recruitment of disciples in the Kingdom of God. Not only does The Lord’s calling convinces Simon to abandon his livelihood “at once” (Matthew 4:20), but it also convicts him to follow Jesus, with faith in the extraordinarily greater meaning his life would receive.
Through the course of his earthly pilgrimage in adoration, fellowship, worship, companionship and discipleship with God Incarnate, Simon, leaves no stone unturned to disqualify himself of Divine kinship. Simon’s personal relationship with the Son of God cannot by any means be appreciated as perfect. It is actually his imperfect relationship with Jesus which stands out as living theology of Mercy in his life. At one time he ignorantly tries influencing Jesus away from the cross, another time he shows faith which makes him walk on water, but in a matter of moments he let’s his doubt begin to drown his faith.
Another time he is fired up to die along with Christ and a short while after that he can’t even stay up for an hour in prayer with the same Christ. He receives authority of being ‘the rock’ and during the passion of his Master, he resorts to bloodshed in the garden of gethsemane. He soon ends up denying The One whom he confessed to be the Anointed One of God and finally abandons Him during His crucifixion and death.
Saul on the other hand has an elaborate and pompous reputation among the Hebrews of that time. A man who was highly intellectual, very well read and learned, zealous for the Lord of the Israelites and an avid persecutor of this new ‘Jesus cult’. His pre-conversion resume boasts of even being a witness to the barbaric murder of the first martyr of Christianity – Stephen. Even all his knowledge, wisdom, religiosity and total obedience to The Law could not move Him to the understanding that he was persecuting Christ Himself while he persecuted His people.
With such an illustrious background, a Law abiding Jew, Saul ended up becoming a consistent, dangerous, controversial, immensely popular and powerful threat to the very community which allowed him to not only thrive ambitiously but also commit cold blooded murders of those believing in the Messiah. While he ferociously rode to massacre the followers of Christ, Our Lord Jesus gives Saul a profound encounter with His mercy. Now, Paul, is suddenly a man out of darkness and into the marvellous light of the Living God. A man who caused immense pain and suffering to the flock of the Good Shepherd is dramatically transformed into an Apostle to the Gentiles, who is completely at peace in-spite of being bitten by poisonous snakes, stoned and beaten by mobs, shipwrecked, jailed and eventually beheaded for his witness. In his own words, he reached the end of his life as the one who faithfully ran the race of faith and awaited the crown of righteousness.
If there is one thing every believer in Christ Jesus can trust fully about what God can do with a person who abandons himself completely to the will of God, is, that God can make a saint out of any sinner who surrenders to God. There is no achievement, no accolade, no qualification, no reputation, no wealth, no prosperity, no sacrifice, no ritual that moves God’s favour upon us. Nor is their any sin or wrong that one can ever commit which would rob us of our share of love from God, provided the sinner repents for severing the bond of being children of God.
The one who denied the Messiah, repented for his doing and in return was given the authority to be the shepherd of the Church of Christ – His mystical body. The one who wanted to wipe out every Christian from Israel, was inducted into the apostleship and was sent forth to evangelise the gentiles.
Each one of us who believes in Christ is called to sainthood, as were Simon and Saul. Each one of us believers are given the vocation to be witnesses of Christ and make disciples of our Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit who worked powerful through Peter & Paul, is the same Spirit who is at work in us. If we consistently be docile to the Holy Spirit, every day of our lives, we will discover our path to heaven and will also be given the grace and the faith to walk on that path until our end in this world.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.