Thursday, June 29, 2017

Saints Peter and Paul: The Greatest Sinners Become the Greatest Saints


Today is a great solemnity in the Church - the feast day of Saints Peter and Paul.  St. Peter was our first pope, and St. Paul was a Jewish convert who is arguably considered to be our greatest evangelizer.  Both of these men were very flawed in very different ways.  St. Peter was an impetuous, act-first-think-later boastful man who literally betrayed Our Lord at the time of his crucifixion.  St. Paul was a Jewish zealot who took part in the murder of many Christians.

St. Paul labeled himself as the "worst sinner": I Tim 1:15 - "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst." I Cor 15:9 - "For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God."  St Peter wept bitterly for his sins, and at one point declared to Our Lord:  "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" (Luke 5:8).

And yet these two great sinners are considered among the greatest saints in history.  How does that happen?


The stories of Saints Peter and Paul and, in fact, of all saints, is the story of God's mercy, forgiveness and grace. God picks each one of us up out of the dirt and makes us into a new creation that we could have never fathomed. This is why we can never judge one another. If you had been a fly on the wall watching the antics of St. Peter during Christ's earthly ministry and his actual betrayal of Jesus, you would have never thought for one moment that Our Lord would choose him to be the earthly foundation of the Church. If you had seen the zealot known as Saul of Tarsus and witnessed his great hatred and persecution of the early Church, it would have been inconceivable to think he would be the greatest evangelizer of the Gospel.

Today's feast day reminds me that we must try to stop limiting God. God never acts in ways that we would choose. He never chooses the people that we would choose. He never brings people to conversion in the way that we think is appropriate. As Pope Francis has said, God is a God of surprises.

As Christians, as followers of Jesus Christ, we make big mistakes if we think we know the mind of God.  And the beauty of following Jesus Christ is that He doesn't ask us to anticipate what He is going to do.  He just asks us to trust him, and then counts that as righteousness on our part.  The first reading from yesterday's Mass is a great illustration of this fact.  It was the story of God's promise to Abram that he would have more descendants than stars in the sky.  There was just one problem:  Abram did not have any children, and his wife was long past child bearing age.  But what was Abram's reaction:  "Abram put his faith in the LORD, who credited it to him as an act of righteousness."

Today's feast day of Saints Peter and Paul should be a reminder to all of us that those whom we consider the greatest sinners, the biggest reprobates who, we feel should be wiped from the earth, may just be fated to be among the greatest saints in heaven.

2 comments:

  1. No offense, Cathololic in Brooklyn, but do you think Michael Voris was trying to portray himself as a saint in the "Limiting God" edition of "The Vortex"?

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    Replies
    1. Voris certainly presented himself as a victim in this video, saying he was coming out only because the big bad New York Archdiocese was going to out him, which of course was not true. But he only ended up confirming what many of us suspected anyway.

      I really try to pay as little attention to Michael Voris as I can.

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