On 29 June the universal Church celebrates the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Doesn’t it seem strange that Saint Paul is accorded equal status with the first Pope, Saint Peter? Paul was definitely not one of the 12 apostles. He was not even a disciple of Jesus during his public ministry and did not know him personally. In fact, after the death of Jesus Paul hated and persecuted the Christians. Scripture says, “Cursed be the man who hangs upon a tree” (Deut 21:23). Jesus was crucified — he hung upon a tree, so he was cursed by God. How could people be disciples of a man cursed by God? For Paul such a movement/religion referred to as “the Way”, had to be eradicated. Conversion came when Paul experienced the risen Christ (Acts 9:3-6). Paul inferred that if God raised Jesus from the dead, he was blessed and not cursed by God. Now the Indefatigable zeal of Paul in persecuting “the people of the Way” turned in equal measure to preaching that same ‘Way’, the Christians! The whole of the rest of his life thus came to be concentrated on Christ. “For me to live is Christ” (Phil I :21), he went on to claim. “I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have :hrist and be given a place in him” (Phil 3:8).
The Acts of the Apostles, the second writing of Saint Luke after his Gospel, is actually the Acts of the Holy Sp through the apostles of Christ. In the first half of the Ac Peter occupies centre stage. The second half concentrates on Paul while Peter fades away.
The Jesuit writer, Luis M. Bermejo states, “It is largely due to Luke that Peter and Paul are inseparably linked together in the Christian mind after Luke devoted half of Acts to Peter and the second half to Paul”.1 His next sentence quoting Sandmel is very significant and can shock many: “Next to Jesus Paul was the most significant person in early Christianity”.
Paul’s influence is not confined to early Christianity but is seen as extending to the very end of the world. He preached in cities (Corinth, Philippi, Damascus etc.), but, as a wandering preacher, he covered around 15,000 kms., by land and sea, often walking from place to place. He continues to preach after his death through the letters written by him or written by a disciple of his (Hebrews) which comprise 14 of the 27 books of the New Testament. All the four Gospels were written after Paul’s letters.
The year 2008 dedicated to Saint Paul was not meant to keep us busy with just his teaching but to help us know the man, his temperament, his passion, his sufferings, his joys, and sorrows. He was a man like us with strengths and weaknesses but totally dedicated to Christ and to the mission Christ entrusted to him. He challenges us to live totally for Christ.
This excerpt is taken from the Book “Life and It’s Values.” Order Now