Posted by: fvbcdm | June 30, 2017

Feast of the First Roman Martyrs (30 June 2017)

[Yesterday,] on the 30th of June, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.  In some countries, it is a Holy Day of Obligation because of its great importance.  In all countries, it enjoys the highest rank of liturgical feasts.  Let’s reflect a minute upon the importance of this day in our religious calendar.

In the Old Testament, the Jewish people often spoke of the twelve tribes of Israel.  It was a standard phrase, meaning the totality of God’s chosen people, since they had been organized according to the twelve sons of Jacob, whose name had been changed by God to Israel.  So, when our Lord Jesus Christ began his public life, one of his first tasks was to select twelve Apostles who would correspond with the twelve tribes of Israel.  When Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus and killed himself, the other eleven were careful to choose someone–who turned out to be Saint Matthias—to take the place of Judas so that the number twelve would be maintained.

However, the Jewish people have never constituted more than a small fraction of the entire human community, and, since Jesus came to redeem the entire world, there must be evangelization of the Gentiles as well as the Jews.  So, shortly after that first Pentecost, the dramatic conversion of Saint Paul took place.  It was he whom Christ chose to be his principal Apostle to the Gentile world.  It is not hard to see why.  Although Paul was a very devout and observant Jew, he had been born and raised outside the Holy Land in the region of the Gentiles.  His home city was Tarsus, in what is now Southern Turkey.  Living as he did among Greek-speaking pagans, who were steeped in the culture of the Greek Empire and later the Roman Empire, he grew up imbibing Jewish religious culture in his home and synagogue and pagan Greek and Roman culture in the country of his birth and from his fellow citizens in that part of the empire.  He was just the man to bring the Gospel of Christ to the non-Jewish world.

So these two men became the two feet upon which the infant Church stood and walked.  Peter was the first Pope.  Paul was the great missionary to the Gentile world.  Both of them eventually went to Rome where they were martyred by command of the Emperor Nero around the year 67.  Saint Peter was crucified in the Circus of Nero on the Vatican Hill, where he is buried.  Saint Paul was beheaded by the River Tiber a few miles from Rome on the way to the sea.  Now, when a pilgrim goes to Rome, he visits the basilicas of Saint Peter in the Vatican and Saint Paul Outside the Walls, as it’s called.  The influence of these two men has been incalculable.  Let us pray for our present Pope and Bishop, the successors of Saints Peter and Paul.  Thank you for allowing God to love you, God bless you. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.

Note:  Father Brown composed this message some years ago.  Please pray for the souls of the faithful departed, including Father Brown.

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