Reflection for Thursday, June 29, 2000: Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles.

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Alexander, Andy, S.J.
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A "Solemnity" is a very special celebration. Only certain feasts have this "rank." And each Solemnity has a special liturgy just for the vigil (to be celebrated the evening before, to prepare for celebrating on the actual day.|So, I said to myself, "there must be something special for me to chew and be nourished by here." And, I read all the readings and asked myself, "what about Peter and Paul inspires me?"|After some chewing, five things come to mind: the profound differences in their personalities and social status; the way they were chosen; the humility that characterized their religious experience and service; how completely Jesus became the fire in their hearts; and how profoundly similar their deaths were.|Jesus moved into the hearts of these two incredibly different characters and transformed them. Paul was highly educated, a strict follower of the law and at the top of Jewish society; Peter caught fish for a living. They both were strong-willed and stubborn. They both would experience resisting him so dramatically, that they would humbly know who they were for the rest of their lives. They both became passionate about sharing the news about Jesus; they knew the power of their message came from Jesus; and in Jesus' name they fought against excluding others. In the end, they both died, like Jesus, under Roman law, their martyr blood inspiring the faith of the early Church.|This morning, I am consoled that their lives again stir my heart to be more humbly and passionately on fire with a union with the One who has called, forgiven, gifted and sent me.|I'm still chewing one easy to miss line from Paul's letter to the Galatians:"Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to confer with Cephas and remained with him for fifteen days."|I'm imagining what those two weeks were like. What did these two disciples of Jesus talk about during these special days they were together on this earth? I imagine Paul being thrilled to hear every word that Peter could share with him about his days with Jesus. I picture Peter being enthralled with Paul's experience of the risen Lord, and how Paul put it all together. And, I imagine these two men experience a deep and profound love for one another.|It's tempting to wonder if some part of the fidelity-to-the-end that they had came from that two week time of personal sharing and supportive love. And, it is wonderful to imagine how sharing and love might give that same faithful-power to our everyday relationships in marriage, with friends, in faith community, or religious community. Even today.
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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