Solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul

 

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The Coward and the Killer. Think about it. Two of the greatest saints in the history of the Church, were literally nothing without God. As they set about their own lives,  they floundered about. In the case of Peter, who was called Simon, he was a simple, often boastful fisherman, who bragged about his strengths almost as often as he fell into his weaknesses. And even when he was hanging out with Jesus, gaining graces and mercy… he still struggled with his many vices… time after time he fled the scene or he bailed on Jesus in those important moments… Those moments when Jesus asked him to have His back… Peter failed. And even when Christ warned him about his nature, Peter still betrayed Jesus.  Sure, he loved Jesus...but when the chips were down, he could not be counted on… and it happened more than once…

In Paul’s case, when he was still called Saul,  not only did he flounder… but he destroyed things. Things that Christ had built. You see, he was full of self pride, and he wanted things done his way. Things had to be just so, and because Christians were rocking the boat…changing the way things had always been for him, he hated them… and shortly after Jesus was crucified, he spent his time seeking out the remaining Christians and killing them. He was trying to wipe them from the face of the earth. He was actually one of the men who stoned the first Christian martyr, Saint Steven. On his own, Paul was a messed up dude. He was a Christian killer. If you think about it, he was an anti- Christ. Full of arrogance and pride, he was traveling on a path to hell…

But as I have said before…. God is awesome…and He knew what He had made. He knew the potential that these men had. He knew that He could make these men great. He knew that with His help they could convert thousands… and He saw in them what no one else would ever have seen if it hadn’t for Him. If it hadn’t been for His mercy,  His goodness and His grace. In fact, He had counted the hairs on their heads before they were born. He knew that He had made them, just as He made us, in His own image and likeness. Imagine that! You… me, every single one of us… We are all made in the image and likeness of Our Awesome Lord. Knit from His very hands in our mother’s wombs.

It’s true and it is a fact. Regardless of what the Godless people say, we were all created by a Great and awesome Lord. For great and Holy things. Just like Peter who had not only betrayed Our Lord, but had been a coward as well, and Saul, who had sought his glory in his pride. God created all of us to be with Him in heaven. He created all of us for sainthood. Whatever we may have done…whatever may be in our past. One way or the other we are all called. Perhaps not in the magnitude that Peter and Paul were called. But great saints none the less. All we need is to follow God’s call. And  this starts with amending our lives… opening ourselves to God’s forgiveness… We must seek out God’s mercy and His forgiveness in the sacraments of the Holy Mother Church. We must allow the Spirit of God to move through us… to move us

Of course, others around us may have a hard time accepting that God has forgiven us, that we have amended our ways. Still others may never accept the fact that God is calling each of us to greatness.  Often, those who are closest to us, those who do not have a solid relationship with the Lord… are the ones most unwilling to let us leave our sins behind. Some of these same people may even try to keep us chained to our past… pushing us into the darkness that lingers there… but we have to trust that God’s mercy is for everyone who makes amends. Any sin that has been revealed in confession and forgiven by the priest… is forgiven. Let no man hold your past sins over you as a way to get you to ignore the Lord. God is calling you. He is calling all of us. Broken, bent and sinful. He is the divine healer. He can… and will heal us all. It is His design for us to be great. His Heart…His Divine Blood will wash us clean…if we let Him.

But this also means that we can’t settle for being a coward.  We can’t allow our tendency to fall into our vices to dictate who we are. We can’t  think for a moment that God created us to be just so-so. He didn’t expect that type of mediocrity from Peter, and He sure as heck demanded a change in Paul… a change that only happened once Paul was knocked from his high horse. He expects the same from us. He doesn’t expect us to be lukewarm, or mediocre. He wants Greatness. He wants sacrifice. Not just those little bitty things that keep us comfortable in our sin. No, He is our Lord. Our God, our King, our All.  And He deserves our all. So, as we go through our days, we shouldn’t settle for being less than what God created. We have to stop hiding behind our excuses. We have to look at ourselves as Saints Peter and Paul were forced to look at themselves… Even if we think we can’t. We have to remember what Saint Paul said, and make it the motto for our life,
I can do all things with Christ Who strengthens me.…” We must be humble enough to realize that it is only with the grace of God that we will ever make it through this life…

Because that is all we’ve got, and when it is all said and done, any greatness we have, was given to us as a gift from God. At our Baptism, each and everyone one of us has been endowed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. But it is up to us… these miserable sinners that we are, much like the former Saints Peter and Paul, to give ourselves  over without reserve to the Lord. We all belong to the Lord, and with a humble composure we must give it back… every last ounce… back to God, Whom it belongs to in the end.

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