Liturgical Colour : White or Red (Martyrs)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, we heard about how Jesus forgave St. Peter three times in the Gospel, after He was risen from the dead, and St. Peter professed his love and devotion to Him anew, also three times, and Jesus commanded Him to go forth and do His will, following Him and feeding His sheep throughout the world.
In the first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard how St. Paul stood before king Agrippa and queen Berenice, as he was about to embark on the journey to Rome, the final leg of his journey and ministry, for he already knew through the Holy Spirit, that he would glorify the Lord through martyrdom at the capital of the Roman Empire.
Both St. Peter and St. Paul were unlikely people to be called by God, according to human and worldly standards. Why is that so? That is because, St. Peter was an illiterate and uneducated fisherman of the lake of Galilee, hardly someone a person of this world would employ in the very important mission to preach the Gospel and the Good News to many people.
And how about St. Paul? As we all should know, St. Paul was once known as Saul, a great enemy of the Church and the faithful, a terror and nightmare of all those who follow the Lord’s way in Jerusalem, Judea and throughout the country of the Jews at that time. Saul was very zealous and dedicated, to the point of frenzy in his hunting of Christians and all those who follow the Lord’s way, arresting them and even torturing them.
Yet, the Lord called both of them, and transformed them into His great servants, those to whom He had entrusted with the very important mission, that is the conversion of souls and salvation of all mankind. St. Peter was entrusted with the leadership of the entire Universal Church, which God had established in this world, with St. Peter as its base and support. And also St. Paul, who was the important Apostle through his missions and journeys, evangelising to the pagans and Gentiles, the Apostle to the Gentiles.
Both of them were the main pillars of the Church, supported and joined by all the other Apostles and disciples of the Lord, by all the holy men and women, all those who have left everything behind in order to follow and to serve the Lord. There were many of those who had given all of their lives in order to advance the cause of the Lord, calling more and more souls to know the Lord and to repent from their sins.
And these include St. Marcellinus and St. Peter, the two renowned saints who were told to have perished in the most severe persecution to ever face the Church in its early days, under the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ordered the persecution of all Christians, the burning of all Christian texts and bibles, and the destruction of churches and Christian properties. Many martyrs were born of that persecution, and yet there were many tales of those who persisted in their faith, laying down their lives for the Lord rather than choosing apostasy.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, many of them, especially St. Peter and St. Paul knew what would be their fate if they continued faithfully to preach the Good News of the Lord and convert more and more souls to the true faith. In the Gospel today, the Lord Himself had mentioned it to St. Peter, how he would also be bound and brought to where he would not want to go, similar to St. Paul, and both ended up in Rome and met their end in martyrdom there.
But through their faith and devotion to the Lord, they glorified the Lord by their lives and by their heroic martyrdom, becoming great inspirations in faith for the many generations of Christians until this very day. Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, in our world today, there are still many things that we can do as Christians in order to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles and saints.
I do not mean that we should intentionally seek martyrdom or persecution, but rather, as Christians, we can no longer be content with just sitting still and doing nothing for the sake of our faith. As the members of God’s Church, all of us have been called by God from our diverse backgrounds and origins much as St. Peter and St. Paul had been called, all sinners who were called to redemption and holiness.
God has given us the gifts, through His Holy Spirit, in order to guide us through this mission He had entrusted to us. Now, it is entirely up to us to choose whether we want to proceed with it or not. Thus, now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all renew our commitment to God, to serve Him with ever greater zeal and devotion, and also to carry on living a good and devout Christian life, through our actions in life, by loving our fellow men, showing mercy to sinners and to our enemies, and to preach the Word of God and His truth through our upright life.
May the Lord bless all of our works and endeavours, and may He empower each and every one of us to be worthy sons and daughters of His, filled with the Holy Spirit, rich in love, mercy, compassion, hope and faith. Amen.