YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL
HOMILY THEME: FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT; LISTENING TO THE HOLY SPIRIT.
BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is reserved for me the crown of righteousness.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8.
As we celebrate two of the greatest pillars of the early church today; Saints Peter and Paul, our readings today are basically set on a tone of encouragement. The life of Saints Peter and Paul teach us that the Christian life is tough, full of challenges and hardships, yet, it contains a lot of great rewards if we do not give up.
In his second letter to Timothy, Paul describes the Christian life as a fight and a race. That is, being a Christian entails contending against certain powerful forces such as the self, temptations from the world and the devil who simply comes to steal, kill and destroy. Being a Christian at all entails fighting against sin and evil, a fight that requires wearing the armour of God; the belt of truth, the shield of righteousness, shoes or the Gospel, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, prayer and spiritual alertness. Cf. Ephesians 6:13-18.
The Christian life is a race, a race that requires special training and self-control so as to reach the end. As Paul himself would say: “Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we, an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly… but I punish my body and enslave it so that after proclaiming to others I myself should not be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:25-27. Running this race entails that we do not live simply according to the flesh but are willing to die to the desires of the flesh and allow the spirit to control us.
From the experience of Peter, we also see that Christian life involves being able to listen to the Holy Spirit. Jesus said to Peter, “Flesh and blood as not revealed this to you but my Father who is in heaven.” Mathew 16:17. Being a Christian requires developing a sixth sense – a spiritual dimension of being able to hear things that are beyond the realm of flesh and blood. This worked out for Peter when he was arrested and put in prison. He saw an Angel who escorted out of the cell into safety and it wasn’t until he got out that he realized it wasn’t a dream.
Truly, Christianity is about following the narrow path, it is making the least popular choices, it is carrying the cross, it is fighting (wrestling) against the flesh and its cravings, it is running from sin and towards God; it is living a life of deep connection with the Holy Spirit. Does this describe my life as a Christian? Am I still fighting the good fight? Has my faith grown cold? Do I still allow God reveal things beyond flesh and blood to me? How often do I read God’s words and meditate on them?
No wonder, not many of us today are committed to spreading the Gospel with the same zeal and power with which Saint Peter and Saint Paul went about it. Peter and Paul had it very tough and rough yet they were determined to push through all their difficulties. They did not give up on themselves or decide to abandon God when things were not so convenient. They fought to the very end and they both shed their blood for the faith. They never became rich with the world’s goods. They never had mansions, a fleet of cars or private jets to move about yet they were extremely successful in planting the faith in the early church.
It is sad that Christianity today has become a thing of convenience. We go to church not strictly because we have heaven in mind but because we hope to get our double share of material prosperity. And when it seems as though things are not coming as we expect them to, we move from church to church looking for what we describe as breakthroughs. The idea of martyrdom today is almost non-existent; no one wants to die for God.
Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, may Saints Peter and Paul renew my eagerness to serve you truly despite whatever challenges that may come my way even if it means having to die for your sake. Amen.
*Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. Bible Study: Acts 12:1-11, Psalm 34:2-9, 2nd Timothy 4:6-18, Matthew 16:13-19).