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Archive for June 29th, 2020

Prayer of the Day

Merciful and eternal God, Your holy apostles Peter and Paul received grace and strength to lay down their lives for the sake of Your Son. Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that we may confess Your truth and at all times be ready to lay down our lives for Him who laid down His life for us, even Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

Appointed Scripture Readings:  Acts 15: 1-21   Psalm 46   Galatians 2: 1-10   St. Matthew 16: 13-19

The festival of St. Peter and St. Paul is probably the oldest of the saints’ observances (dating from about the middle of the third century). An early tradition held that these two pillars of the New Testament Church were martyred on the same day in Rome during the persecution under Nero. In addition to this joint commemoration of their deaths, both apostles are commemorated separately: Peter on January 18 for his confession of Jesus as the Christ (Matthew 16:13-16) and Paul on January 25 for his conversion (Acts 9:1-19).

The New Testament tells us much about both apostles. Peter was with Jesus from the beginning of His ministry and served as a leader among the disciples. Despite his steadfast faith, Scripture also records of his failures, such as his rebuke of Jesus (Matthew 16:21—23) and his threefold denial of his Lord (Matthew 26:69-75). Following Jesus’ ascension, Peter continued as a leader in the Church (Acts 1:15; 2:M; 15:7).

Paul, a devout Jew also known as Saul, entered the scene as a persecutor the Church. Following his miraculous conversion, in which the risen Christ Himself appeared to him, Paul became a powerful preacher of the grace of God. During his three missionary journeys (Acts 13-14; 16-18; 18-21), Paul traveled throughout modern-day Turkey and Greece. The New Testament account of his life ends with Paul under house arrest in Rome (Acts 28:16), though tradition holds that he went on to Spain before returning to Rome. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House)

Why did Peter and Paul, and the Apostles do what they did, even to martyrdom?  And so many Christians following Christ? What did they hope to get out of this new religion?  Many follow a new religion, or a new political theory or movement in order to get a new rule, power and a reign.  The promise is to get something out of this new thing based upon some human ideology, even tinged with religion, is to gain a fake ‘salvation’.  Man, instinctively knows that there is a God that I have to make myself right before God or some god.  To many it is not even the one true God, but say “right side of history” or “Allah”, or rules. Peter and Paul were not looking for salvation as the Savior had come to them and saved them!  As transgressors, they found out they could not justified themselves before the living God, but the living God justified them, made them right by dying and living again. They weren’t looking for  their own nirvana, utopia, or kingdom on earth. They weren’t hoping to get anything out of Jesus since He had already given them and everyone Himself and all things: His body and His blood!  They were hoping for many to receive the gift of salvation, be born from above and be saved.  As St. Paul wrote,

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 2 Cor. 4: 5  For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 2 Cor. 4: 15. 

St. Peter, one of the 12 who was with the Lord for three years and saw it all, expresses what I think is amazement that those who did not so see believe:

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1). 

This is the only faith on earth that is spread because we are saved and the Holy Spirit works in us faith and belief through this Good News which is the acknowledged trust of that Fact in Jesus Christ,  but not in order to be saved.

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