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SS Peter and Paul

V Sunday of Lent

IV Sunday of Lent

III Sunday of Lent

 

 

 

 

SS Peter and Paul

 

The Church today is joyful because it remembers its own great witnesses that one only love has taken and united. The first carries the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, the second the sword which is the powerful Word of God. In the liturgy of the Church there are many saints who are remembered, others who are celebrated with a feast and others who have a right of solemnity. By right Peter and Paul are at the top of the list. This is not for honouring their persons rather their mission. Like us, the head of the apostles and the apostle of the People have been forgiven sinners: the former betrayed Jesus and the latter was among those who killed Stephen, also for them the glory they had was a gift of God. When we celebrate the saints, we always honour the Lord. The proof is the fact that the Church wants to honour two figures of apostles so dissimilar of the same Lord with the same solemnity.  The Rock, the founding stone, “you are Peter and on this stone I will build my Church” and the tireless traveller, the apostle of the foreigners “I cannot stop announcing the Gospel”. One is, the other is-not. It is the emblem of the abundance of the Holy Spirit that instil diversities of gift and missions for the vitality of the Church, body of Christ, like Paul repeats us many times.  We could just say that today it is our national feast, we remember by celebrating it and state out aloud that we are invested with the same mission: teaching to all the nations. It is up to us, present baptized, to be the new Peter and Paul, according to our vocation. They are not two statues, two paintings, but two examples and models of life that have given priority to the service of the Word and Gospel. The Church today joyful remembers the birth of Paul two millennia ago. In the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls, the Pope has inaugurated a holy year honouring the apostle of the People. We will have plenty time to deepen his figure throughout the year. There will be time to know better this Jew proud of his origins, Greek by culture, Latin for citizenship and a tireless traveller. He incarnates like nobody the universality of the Christianity, always dynamic and current.  Let us start from today’s reading, the letter of the apostle Paul to Timothy. The first letter to Timothy and the one to Titus are classified in the “pastoral letters”: they contain exhortations to his two disciples and friends about how manage their own respective Churches, their Christian communities, young, inexpert, of pagan origin that did not often know how to put the evangelic message in practice. Today we are told the experience of Paul and his teachings. According to the letter, Paul is prisoner and alone in Rome, abandoned by his friends and community. Today we read the last chapter that we could call the spiritual testament of Paul. He feels that he is going to die soon and presents his death as a sacrifice. He looks back at his life, his battles which he had to sustain and he re-asserts his fidelity he followed to announce the good news of the Gospel to all the nations. Within the impartial justice of the Lord, one can read his situation: an innocent prisoner. Christ was condemned despite being innocent, like and after Paul, many others live and will live a similar injustice. He does not complain and he does not express neither sadness nor resentment. He confesses his faith in the righteousness of the Lord for himself and for whoever believes. Paul also talks about the difficulties of the evangelization: the abandonment of one another, but this does neither discourage him nor win him. He stresses the presence of the Lord who is always next to him, who will always be and will allow him to be with him forever in His kingdom. This is his hope. Reaching the end of his life during which he never spares himself and totally gives himself because everyone could know Christ, he re-asserts his trust. This becomes encouragement for Timothy and for all those who will bear the torch for bringing the Gospel to all the nations. At the end of his testament Paul does not let the look be upon him, he invites us, invites his addressee Timothy to turn towards Jesus whose glory is forever. Paul’s life does not end with ‘the end’ as in the films, but it opens to a relation with his glorious friend that one day called him on the road while he was going to Damascus: Paul, Paul why do you persecute me? Who are you Lord?

During the year, we will have the opportunity to deepen the figure of this missionary, the envoy to the people. By now, we can get the chance to read something about him during this summertime, it can be the occasion for giving also to our soul and mind a breath of fresh air at a high altitude.