Thursday, November 18, 2010

Feast Day of Sts. Peter and Paul

From The Word Among Us:

Since at least the year 354, this day has been set aside to honor the apostles Peter and Paul. The memory of these great apostles and our reverence for the work of grace in their lives have pierced the hearts of the faithful ever since. Of all the men and women who have ever lived, these two were chosen to be the apostles to the Jews and the Gentiles.

In Peter we see a hot-tempered, unschooled fisherman who became a bold, self-controlled preacher and pastor. Peter was so transformed by the Spirit that he was able to sleep soundly in the face of death! Luke tells us of an incident in which Herod had arrested Peter with the intention of beheading him (Acts 12:1-4). So complete was Peter’s trust in God and his acceptance of God’s plan that, in prison, on what could have been the last night of his life, he was able to sleep like a baby. The angel whom God sent to rescue Peter had to strike him on the side in order to wake him up (12:7)!

At a similar point in his life, Paul is depicted as being poured out as a libation for the Lord (Philippians 2:17). This former Pharisee, who had previously condemned and put to death Jesus’ disciples, was so changed that he could accept his death and offer it to the Lord as an act of worship! He sought neither redress nor vindication, but was willing to offer his very life for the sake of the gospel. When his fate was certain, he remained calm, accepting, and ever-trusting in God’s faithfulness.

God’s power to transform his people is unlimited. Peter and Paul completely surrendered themselves to Jesus so that he could work through them to give birth to his church. When we surrender ourselves as Peter and Paul did, giving God permission to transform us and to use us as he sees fit, great things can happen. Even if the work we are called to do seems little in our own eyes, we should never underestimate its importance to God. Although Peter and Paul brought thousands of people to Christ, we build the kingdom even when we witness to just one person.

God is inviting every one of us to share in the calling of the apostles: to teach, to witness to the gospel, to love with the love of Jesus, to run the race. Let us pray for the church today, that God would give us the grace to be open to his transforming work.

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