Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. I find it interesting that these two saints have their feasts together. I often try to imagine what it would have been like to be with them both in the same room at the same time. From what we know of them, they were both very passionate and strong willed men. We also know that while they knew Christ in different ways and at different times, they both loved Him and the Gospel He preached very much.
While it might be easy to look at the more obvious similarities and differences in these two saints, the strongest thread of commonality that runs through the lives of these two men is that of unity.
After the Resurrection, Peter preached to the Jews. Paul after his conversion, became the Apostle to the Gentiles. These two disciples of Christ worked in different ways and with different groups of people toward a common goal~building the one holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Perhaps this is one of the reasons we celebrate their feast on the same day.
Pope Benedict XVI in his 2005 homily for this feast calls it a feast of catholicity. He defines this term saying:
"Catholicity means universality - a multiplicity that becomes unity; a unity that nevertheless remains multiplicity."
In the more than 2000 years since the birth of Christianity, the Catholic Church as grown; the Gospel continues to be preached to the ends of the earth. In so doing, there is certainly diversity in the way the Catholic faith is expressed, but the teachings and tenets are the same no matter where we go in the world. The Church is universal and diverse, but it remains One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. The lives of the two great saints we celebrate today were living proof of that.Christ, the firm Foundation, built His Church upon the rock of Peter and spread it to the Gentiles through Paul. May they intercede for each of us in our quest for holiness and for unity in the Church.
whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul
glorified you by their martyrdom:
Grant that your Church,
instructed by their teaching and example,
and knit together in unity by your Spirit,
may ever stand firm upon the one foundation,
which is Jesus Christ our Lord;
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.