On this feast of Saints Peter and Paul I take great comfort and am filled with hope in their example. Not in their saintly example but the example of a stumbling follower and a nasty persecutor.
Peter was a follower who frequently failed to understand Jesus and descended into fear and denial when Jesus was arrested. Yet “The Rock” has a foundation built on loyalty and openness to the spirit. Through the gifts of Pentecost Peter is transformed from one who was afraid to admit he knew Jesus and becomes an important leader of the early church willing to suffer martyrdom for his loyalty to the risen Christ.
As Saint Andrew is the Father of Eastern Christianity so is Saint Peter known as the Father of Western Christianity. Saint Peter who was acutely aware of his sinfulness and failures became a keystone in the development of the faith. How awesome and hopeful is that for us today!
Today the young Paul might be accused of being a genocidal leader. He was there when Christianity’s first martyr Saint Stephen was stoned to death. He was even on a mission of persecution when he was miraculously struck down and converted. He had truly believed that the blood on his hands was in righteous service to God.
Saint Paul, blood on his hands, makes a complete 360 and was willing to suffer greatly to promote that which he had tried to destroy. Only someone who had been so wrong could become so committed.
How wonderfully consistent is Jesus. He came to save sinners and choose from among them two whose lives were transformed from sin and weakness to being the foundation of the people of God, his church. It is through their weakness that they became so strong. The perfect, the self-righteous have no need for God. We the humbled, weak and prone to failure recognize the trans-formative hope offered in being followers of Christ. When we follow our own path we fail when we follow the path set before us in the way of Christ Jesus we succeed.
The Church formed by sinners, who are we to judge others? We do not know Gods plans for them. We must offer forgiveness for trespasses that we also may be forgiven.