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Today is the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, clearly the most well-known and important figures of the early days of Christianity. They prove the truth of the adage, “Variety is the spice of life” however. As we recall, Peter was chosen by Jesus as the leader of his motley band of followers. He was the only one that had an answer when Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Good answer: “You are the Christ, Son of God,” put him at the head of the class, but his missteps were many along the way. One commentary suggests that he could have used a public relations director. He said and did lots of things along the way that directly contradicted previous statements and actions, e.g. the opposite of the above-mentioned proclamation when he said “I do not know the man,” in fear during the trial of Jesus. But Jesus never lost faith in Peter; he chose and supported him because he loved him and was faithful to that love and in the end, Peter grew into his best self, giving everything including his life in the manner of Christ.
Paul was also transformed by the love of Christ. Unlike Peter, however, Paul never met Jesus in the flesh but came to know him “in a flash of light” and was forever changed. Also unlike Peter, once Paul had been converted to Christ, he never wavered; he was tireless in his preaching and traveled the known world as a missionary to the growing communities of those who were coming to believe in this new “Word of God.” Christ clearly loved Paul too, making a way for him in all trials during his ministry until Paul himself declared, “I have run the race; I have kept the faith…” and he too was martyred for the cause of Christ.
I read a quote this morning from a general audience of Pope Francis that speaks to me about these two great men. It said in part, “the Church is like a great orchestra in which there is great variety. We are not all the same, and we do not have to be all the same. We are all different, varied, and each of us brings our own special qualities. This is the beauty of the Church: everyone brings their own gifts which God has given for the sake of enriching others.”
All of this says to me that fidelity is like a coat of many colors fitting us how and when we are ready. God is totally in love with each of us and all of us and waits for us to grow into the person we already are in God’s eyes. Peter came to know that, Paul knew that, just as Pope Francis knows it and asks us to consider it as well. This is my prayer for today.