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Character flaws no barrier to Peter, Paul’s evangelizing

Based on Acts 12:1-11; 2 Tm 4:6-8, 17-18; Mt 16:13-19

For today’s feast of SS. Peter and Paul, the first and second readings tell us about Peter’s persecution and jail time and Paul’s opinion of his work bringing the Good News to the Gentiles.

In the Gospel, Jesus asks his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?”

Peter replies, “You are the Christ the Son of the living God.”

The Holy Spirit inspired Peter’s response to Jesus’ true identity.

In blessing, Jesus says, “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”

After Jesus’ death, Resurrection and Ascension, Peter will use his Holy Spirit-inspired gifts of faith and leadership to guide the apostles and other disciples in the early church.

Ultimately, his love for Jesus, and his vigorous zeal and faithfulness in carrying on Jesus’ mission, will result in martyrdom for the faith.

St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, wrote extensively throughout his missionary travels. Of the New Testament’s 27 books, 13 are letters from St. Paul. His writings are a primary source of information on life in the early church and continue to influence church thinking today. Throughout his missionary journeys, St. Paul suffered persecution and ill treatment. He, too, was martyred for the faith.

Peter and Paul are outstanding examples for us. Peter goes from being a fisherman and a three-time denial of Jesus to being entrusted with the leadership of Jesus’ church. Paul goes from being a persecutor of Christians and a direct conversion experience from God to become one of Jesus’ greatest evangelizers.

These apostles overcame character faults, grew in their love for Jesus and gave themselves totally and faithfully to witnessing for him.

Jesus asks each of us, too, “Who am I in your life? Am I important in your daily choices?” Can we answer Jesus with the gift of our whole heart, mind and soul?