- The Abbey of the Genesee - https://www.geneseeabbey.org -

Homily for June 29, 2021 – SOLEMNITY OF SS. PETER & PAUL


Fr. John Denburger, OCSO

Acts 12: 1 – 11; 2 Timothy 4: 6 – 8, 17 – 18; Matthew 16: 13 — 19

Quoting somewhat the prophet Zechariah, St. John in Revelation writes of “the
two olive trees and the two lampstands which stand in the presence of the Lord
of the earth.” (Rev 11:4) It is believed that these trees, lampstands represent Peter
and Paul whose solemnity we celebrate.

At least in the beginning their lives could not have been more different, almost
worlds apart. Peter a married man, a fisherman by trade trying to live his life of
faith as best as he could, and Paul a well-educated Pharisee, ardent, zealous to
the extreme, and then, one day Jesus entered their lives. They were surprised by
grace – one while casting a net into the sea and the other on his way to
Damascus to persecute the people of the way, journeying with righteous

And in time, giving themselves to the Lord, belief in this Jesus took over their
lives, their futures. They were deeply, profoundly convinced so that each will
proclaim with the most sincere conviction – Peter: “To whom shall we go, you
have the words of everlasting life”… ”You are the Christ, the Son of the living
God” and Paul: “For me to live is Christ”… ”I have come to rate all as loss in the
light of Christ.”And yet in this graced conviction, they still remain very human –
Peter denies knowing Christ three times and Paul has a serious falling out with
Barnabas and they part company – in this we see the mystery of grace and the
mystery of human life not yet perfect but on the way.

Like Peter and Paul, we too live each day with our convictions, deeply held
beliefs in God, in the Holy Trinity, in the Real Presence – in God’s mercy,
goodness, forgiveness, providence, and like them these sacred convictions are
borne in the very earthen vessels of our humanity. Yet with this, they give us
meaning, hope, life, and a personal relationship with the living God – knowing the
exceeding love of the Father, the unspeakable mercy of the Son, the
indescribable tenderness of the Holy Spirit.

In his account of the Last Supper St. John writes, “He (Jesus) loved His own in
the world and would show His love to the end.” The greatest praise is to imitate
and so, Peter and Paul showed their love, lived their faith, carried their humanity
to the end – that witness is held to us today. May the same be said of us – that we
live and will live our love of Christ, our belief, our sacred conviction to the end, and for us, there is no end…only Eternal Life.