Ss. Peter & Paul (June 29)
Sts. Peter & Paul celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church since the 3rd century, there is sound evidence that both Peter & Paul preached in the city of Rome and were martyred there under the Emperor Nero around the 64 AD. Simon, a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee, was one of the first whom Jesus called to follow Him. Changing his name to Peter, "Rock," the Lord promised to build His Church on him and gave him power in heaven and on earth. A natural spokesman for the others, Peter called Jesus "the Christ, the Son of the Living God." When Jesus was arrested, Peter denied Him three times and afterwards wept bitterly over his enormous betrayal of the One he promised to die for. When Jesus rose from the dead, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him and, hearing the disciple's simple answer, "Yes, Lord, You know I love you," gave him again a privileged place at His side. Filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter began to preach about Jesus Christ to the crowds in Jerusalem and Samaria and later made hi way to Rome where he died a martyr's death as leader of that Church. Tradition says that he died crucified head down, since he considered himself unworthy to die as his Lord had done. Saul of Tarsus was a zealous Jew, a Pharisee, who after his dramatic conversion on the way to the city of Damascus became a fervent apostle of Jesus. After a three-year period in Arabia, where he assimilated his new faith, Paul journeyed to the cities of Damascus, Jerusalem, Antioch and then crisscrossed the cities of the Asia Minor establishing communities of Christians among the Gentiles. Because of his activity he suffered constant harassment from his enemies, enduring shipwreck, imprisonment, and beatings. At the same time he was greatly loved by those Christians to whom he ministered; Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, Romans. To them St. Paul wrote his powerful letters of consolation and instruction which the Church still reads today as inspired by God Himself. After imprisonment in Rome, he was beheaded along the Ostian Way where his burial place is still venerated. In his letter to Timothy he wrote, "The time has come for me to go. I have fought the good fight; I have run the race: I have kept the faith. Now I await the crown of justice which the Lord, the just judge, will give to me on that day, and not only to me but to all who long for His coming."