Monday, June 29, 2009

Scrapes and Escapes: Peter and Paul

Today's great feast of Sts Peter and Paul gives us a kind of hodgepodge of readings: the first reading, from Acts, is Peter's miraculous escape from Herod's jail (despite the precautions: 16 guards, double chains and an iron gate). This is marvelously depicted by Raphael in one of the Vatican stanze. Then we have a second reading: this time, Paul is in jail--no miraculous escape for him. (Come to think of it, Paul never actually gets a miraculous escape from his many tribulations--unless you count the well-timed earthquake in Philippi that one time...) Instead, the Lord who gave Paul strength for ministry will "deliver" him to the Kingdom. And the Gospel is the famous "You are Peter" of Matthew 16. But even here, we get a hint of power and strength, because the Gates of Hell will be unable to prevail against the God-given strength of the Church.
And it is with this promise that the Year of St. Paul ends.
Has the Year of St. Paul been particularly meaningful to you? Did you gain new insights into Paul as a person, or into his admittedly dense writings? What aspect of Paul's life or mission has touched you in a particular (and maybe surprising) way this year?

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