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Founding Fathers

 

This weekend the Church celebrates two of the real giants of its formative years. Although St. Peter and St. Paul accomplished amazing things individually, they share the same feast because they were both key founders of the Church in Rome and they were both martyred there.

Christ counted Peter as one of his closest friends and identified him as ‘the rock’ on which he would build his Church. Although Peter denied Jesus three times during the Passion, they were reconciled after the Resurrection. Jesus asked Peter to affirm his love three times and made a personal appeal to him to care for his flock. Accordingly, after the Ascension, the Church looked to Peter for leadership. He inspired everyone with his fearless witness, worked a number of miracles and showed wisdom in making important decisions. One of his key policies was to support St. Paul’s contention that Gentile converts should base their membership of the Church on faith in Jesus and a loving disposition rather than on the rigid and demanding code of the Jewish Law. Although Paul famously began as a persecutor of the Church, he ended up becoming one of its most successful and tireless missionaries. His legacy lives on today through the many Churches he founded around the Mediterranean and also through the theological and pastoral vision of his Epistles. However, as the old saying goes: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. The best way we can really honour our great saints is not simply to look back in admiration, but to take up the gift of the Holy Spirit the same way they did and to continue their work in whatever way we can.

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