One might wonder what was on Jesus’ mind, on God’s mind, when he picked these two to be the examples of what a disciple should be. You and I would probably agree that Peter and Paul were probably two of the worst examples of disciples what a disciple should be. Peter was a traitor, he denied Jesus three times, and Paul a persecutor, he hunted and killed Christians before his conversion. Yet Jesus saw something other than a traitor and persecutor in them. Indeed, Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Messiah was astonishing. Only someone very special could have seen so clearly, as Peter did, who Jesus really was. All this suggests something quite important and theological. We should never dare to judge anyone, not even ourselves, as the stories of Peter and Paul teach us.
None of us is living up to the beauty that is inside us, a beauty that only God can see clearly. All of us, no matter how terrible we live our lives, can turn them around. If a traitor can become the pope, and a persecutor one of the greatest of Jesus’ disciples, then imagine the potential within us, a potential that God can awake and make real if only we would let him.
The feast of Saints Peter and Paul is not only a celebration of the lives of these great saints but also a celebration of the good that is inside us, locked up, and ready to spring open when God touches our hearts like he did with Peter’s and Paul’s. Once Peter and Paul met Jesus, as John before them, they did not live for themselves any longer. The names of both of them were changed.
Simon was named Peter, the rock for the building of the church. Saul became Paul, made into an apostle after his conversion.
My friends, at Baptism we, too, were given a new name and a mission to find God in all the circumstances and events of our lives and to give witness to Jesus Christ through our self-giving and our love. That might mean to be willing to serve others at all times, to sacrifice hours and days to the care of our children, our spouses, or aging parents; to give our own comfort up sometimes for the good of others; to give up our sense of competition; to silence a harsh word we are about to utter; and so many other small things that come up in the source of a normal day in our lives.
So why not just let Jesus unlock our hearts and minds so that we can better serve God and one another by using those wonderful gifts God has given to each one of us. Especially the gifts of Jesus, our example and the Holy Spirit, our enabler, let’s just live our Baptismal promises.