Today, the Holy Roman Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Saint Peter And Saint Paul - two ordinary men who's lives were radically changed when they met Jesus the Christ. Peter was the first to profess the 'rock foundation' of the Church when in response to Jesus' question of who do people say he (Jesus) was, Peter replied, "you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." This statement, this proclamation by Saint Peter, became the foundation stone for the Church's belief that Jesus is indeed divine; that He is indeed equal to God.
This profession by Saint Peter, makes him the most important witness to the faith; so much so that even Saint Paul who too witnessed the risen Lord Jesus Christ, thought it important to go to Saint Peter to confirm what he (Saint Paul) was on fire to preach.
In the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, both the opening 'Collect' and the Preface mention joy. Both Peter and Paul were devout Jews, but imagine how they must have felt when they realized with faith filled certainty that all that they believed in and longed for - even though in sin - all that they preached; all of it was confirmed in the person of Jesus, the Subject of their preaching, the subject of their belief, the subject of their greatest desire. Their joy was complete in Christ Jesus.
If like Saint Peter and Saint Paul, we all lived lives of faith within the Catholic Church, where Jesus the Christ is the subject of our belief, of what we teach, of how we live, of what we long for, and who is at the heart of and is the joy of our desire, then at the moment of our death, we too will experience the same kind of joy that Saint Peter and Saint Paul experienced. The joy that is presented here is not a fairy tale kind of joy buy the real joy of the Lord experienced by all of the Saints who looked at the world with great sadness and compassion, and who's spirits must have sighed within them at what they was, but then they saw the world through Jesus and their sighs were changed to joy, because Jesus, the Light of the world, the cause of all joy, the Hope of the world, is there and is in charge.
The joy that the Church shares with us today as we celebrate the feasts of Saint Peter and Saint Paul is real joy. Saint Peter's rescue from the hands of those who had imprisoned him was so dramatic, that not only would it have made an excellent movie, but Saint Peter for the most part, thought he was experiencing a vision. It was not until the rescue mission was accomplished by the angel, that Peter realised that it was all real, and oh what filled his heart. Likewise Saint Paul, a prisoner in chains, intent on running the race to the end to receive the Prize of all prizes, the Lord Jesus Christ. He too in his writings, shares exciting and joy-filled stories, reflecting on God's work in and through his, as his life nears an end.
The Holy Roman Catholic Church celebrates the feast of these two great apostles - Saint Peter and Saint Paul - who in spite of being persecuted for "the cause" were never despondent. Their hearts were always filled and overflowing with joy - the joy of the Lord Jesus Christ. No matter what your circumstance may be, may you come to experience the real Joy of the Lord Jesus Christ; may this joy be complete in you; may His joy be your strength.
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