Gods’ love, mercy and compassion shine forth most clearly in the feast of these two apostles. Peter was enthusiastic in his faith in Christ, “Peter said to him, ‘Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.’ And all the disciples spoke likewise. (Matthew 26:35)” When the trial came, however, Peter did deny Christ three times, and all the apostles, except one, ran out of fear. Yet Peter wept for his weakness, and his weakness turned to strength, though not of his own human power, but by the grace of God. For when he confessed Jesus to be the Messiah, the Lord told him: “Simon Peter said … ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father,’ (Matthew 16:16-17) and it was on this rock of faith that the Church was established.
Likewise, Saul closed his eyes to the truth, and persecuted Christians. But even as he was seeking Christians to persecute, the grace of God transformed his life, “On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:3-6). It is the great Apostle Paul who later tells us: “[The Lord] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). This is Christian faith: in weakness there is strength, in foolishness there is wisdom, in death, there is life.
This the world does not understand. Today, as we honor these pre-eminent apostles, we, too, pray, “O God of mercy, love and compassion, give me the gift of your Spirit for strength in faith and hope and love, and that I may also show love, forgiveness and compassion to my neighbor.”
Meditation by Archpriest David Petras