Homily for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

Acts 12:1-11 2

Tm 4:6-8, 17-18

Mt 16:13-19

Today we celebrate the feast of two of the great pillars of the church, Peter and Paul. They came from very different backgrounds. Peter was a fisherman from rural Galilee. Paul was a learned Pharisee from the university city of Tarsus.

Peter’s first language was Aramaic; Paul’s first language was Greek. Peter knew Jesus from the time of Jesus’ baptism and was with Jesus until the time of Jesus’ passion and death; Paul only ever met the risen Lord, in the vicinity of Damascus.

For all their differences, they had at least one thing in common. Both of these men found themselves at odds with the Lord. Peter denied Jesus publicly three times. Paul violently persecuted the followers of Jesus, and thereby persecuted Jesus himself.

Yet, their resistance to the Lord did not prevent the Lord from working powerfully through them. Peter was chosen to be the leader of the twelve, the rock on which Jesus would build his church. Paul was chosen to be the great apostle to the pagans. We know from the letter to the Galatians that Peter and Paul had a serious disagreement at one point about the direction the church should be taking. They were very different people and the Lord worked through each of them in very different ways.

They were certainly united in death. Very early tradition recalls that both were executed in Rome by the emperor Nero who blamed the Christians for the fire of Rome.

Today’s feast reminds us that the way the Lord works through us is unique to each one of us. The feast also reassures us that our many resistances to the Lord need not be a hindrance to the Lord working through us. Peter who denied the Lord and Paul who persecuted the Lord went on to become great servants of the Lord.

Our failings do not define who we are. Paul would go on to say, ‘the Lord’s grace toward me has not been in vain’. The Lord’s grace towards us in our weakness and frailty need never be in vain if we continue to open ourselves to the workings of that grace, as Peter and Paul did.

Sts. Peter and Paul pray for us.


Fr. John Peter Kigoowa Parish.

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