The Feast of the Apostles Abib 5 – July 12

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”. (Matthew 28:19)

The feast of the Apostles commemorates the martyrdom of the two great Apostles Saint Paul and Saint Peter. The Feast of our fathers and teachers the Apostles calls us to reflect upon the lives, writings, teachings and personalities of these great people who wrote and preached the Gospel of Salvation, established churches, endured tremendous suffering and shed their blood out of their deep love for their Saviour and Lord Jesus Christ.

It was the Apostles who documented the life, ministry and teachings of Christ and expounded upon the basics of the Christian faith and life in the Epistles.

Instructed by the Lord to “Make disciples of all nations” (Matt 28:19) and empowered by the Holy Spirit the Apostles with courage embarked upon their ministry, a great number believed and turned to the Lord (Acts 11:21).

Filled with the Divine Power of the Holy Spirit the Apostles became witnesses to the Risen Lord in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).  They gladly preached the Gospel (ie Good News) of Salvation daily; in the Temple and in every house, they did not cease from teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ (Acts 5:42). St Luke states these who were scattered went everywhere preaching the Word (Acts 8:4).  In the Service of the Apostles the words of the psalmist have been fulfilled, there is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard and their words have gone to the ends of the earth.

The entire ministry of the Apostles was filled with many hardships and suffering.  They were sent out as lambs among wolves (Lk 10:3).  Saint Peter was imprisoned (Acts 4:1-4) & (Acts 12:5).  Saint Paul was beaten, stoned, three times shipwrecked in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness, in hunger and thirst and in cold (2 Cor 11:23-28).  In all this, the Apostles rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for His Name (Acts 5:41).  As Martyrs, the Apostles blood has nourished and sustained the church to this day.

In each Apostle and Disciple of Christ the prophecies of Isiah have been fulfilled: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation” (Is 52:7).  Through their indescribable efforts, “all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God” (Is 52:10).

Saint Peter, called Simon before his meeting with Jesus, changed his name to Cephas (Peter). His Jewish faith was inherited from his family. Simon-Peter was a simple man, a fisherman who met Jesus and became a “fisher of men”. Saint Peter had fervent faith and strong zeal. When the Lord asked His disciples: “Who do men say that I am?” So they answered, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” … Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13-20). After he received the grace of the Holy Spirit, he went around in the world preaching of the crucified Christ, and he converted many to the faith. God wrought great and innumerable signs and wonders by his hands. He wrote two Catholic Epistles to the believers.

Saint Paul, a Roman citizen, was initially called Saul. He was a Jew, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Pharisee. Though contemporary with Jesus, he never met Him during His life on earth. Out of a great zeal for the Jewish tradition, Saul persecuted the new community of the disciples of Jesus. While doing so, he met Jesus, who asked him: “Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9, 4). Then he understood that Jesus is alive and is the real Messiah. Then Saul the Persecutor, converted and baptized, became Paul the Apostle, the most zealous missionary of Christ and of His Church and he proclaimed boldly the Faith.

Different in place of birth and culture, Saint Peter and Saint Paul were called to be apostles also in a different way and received from Christ and from the Church different missions; to Saint Peter, the preaching of the Gospel among the Jewish people and to Saint Paul, the mission among the Gentiles.
Saint Peter and Saint Paul are teachers of the faith, model missionaries and intercessors for the life and unity of the Church.

Saint Peter was crucified; Saint Paul, a Roman citizen, was slain by the sword.

May their intercession be with us, Amen