TUESDAY, JUNE 29, 2021
“Ultimately, faith in the Holy Spirit present in the Church carries us forward and will save us.”
A WWII Nazi described the night Stalingrad fell to the Russians:
“We have whispered tales among us that when the Russians closed the ring and we couldn’t get through with food or mail anymore except by air, that the last wireless messages we got from within was the call, ‘Send us Bibles!’ … One fellow who escaped after capture told me that our soldiers would beg for just one page to hold in their hands….” *
When I read this account, I was deeply moved.
There’s an old saying that “there are no atheists in foxholes.” Actually, there are. Some people’s consciences have been so thoroughly seared that they don’t think of God even when they are close to death.
But near-death experiences help many people set aside their excuses and realize that God has always been present:
Romans 2:14-15 explains that “the requirements of the law” are written on everyone’s heart, no matter how hard they try to deny it.
Romans 1:18-20 tells us that “God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature” are evident in His creation. Those who refuse to believe in God must daily deny this evidence.
EVERYONE needs Jesus, so keep praying for your loved ones who don’t know Him.
*Hansi, The Girl Who Loved the Swastika, by former Nazi who became a Christian, Maria Anne Hirschmann
What does it mean to be sacred—to be woven, warp and weft, of divine fabric? For one, it means that all the raw material of this world and all the human and other-than-human creatures of this world are divinely given gifts, deserving of reverence and respect for their place in the Great Economy, and therefore not simply expendable. To be sacred also means to participate fully—even if not consciously—in the ongoing dance of relationships, which are the fundamental divine reality, as good Trinitarian theology claims. To be sacred means that everything and everyone (human and non-human) can be a conduit and a container for beauty and meaning. Everything, if we just learn to see with the right eyes, is shining like the sun. And it means, in an important way, that ownership and possession are ultimately a fiction.
— from the book Making Room: Soul-Deep Satisfaction through Simple Living
by Kyle Kramer
Saints Peter and Paul’s Story
Peter (d. 64?) Saint Mark ends the first half of his Gospel with a triumphant climax. He has recorded doubt, misunderstanding, and the opposition of many to Jesus. Now Peter makes his great confession of faith: “You are the Messiah” (Mark 8:29b). It was one of the many glorious moments in Peter’s life, beginning with the day he was called from his nets along the Sea of Galilee to become a fisher of men for Jesus.
The New Testament clearly shows Peter as the leader of the apostles, chosen by Jesus to have a special relationship with him. With James and John he was privileged to witness the Transfiguration, the raising of a dead child to life, and the agony in Gethsemane. His mother-in-law was cured by Jesus. He was sent with John to prepare for the last Passover before Jesus’ death. His name is first on every list of apostles.
And to Peter only did Jesus say, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:17b-19).
But the Gospels prove their own trustworthiness by the unflattering details they include about Peter. He clearly had no public relations person. It is a great comfort for ordinary mortals to know that Peter also has his human weakness, even in the presence of Jesus.
He generously gave up all things, yet he can ask in childish self-regard, “What are we going to get for all this?” (see Matthew 19:27). He receives the full force of Christ’s anger when he objects to the idea of a suffering Messiah: “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (Matthew 16:23b).
Peter is willing to accept Jesus’ doctrine of forgiveness, but suggests a limit of seven times. He walks on the water in faith, but sinks in doubt. He refuses to let Jesus wash his feet, then wants his whole body cleansed. He swears at the Last Supper that he will never deny Jesus, and then swears to a servant maid that he has never known the man. He loyally resists the first attempt to arrest Jesus by cutting off Malchus’ ear, but in the end he runs away with the others. In the depth of his sorrow, Jesus looks on him and forgives him, and he goes out and sheds bitter tears. The Risen Jesus told Peter to feed his lambs and his sheep (John 21:15-17).
Paul (d. 64?) If the most well-known preacher today suddenly began preaching that the United States should adopt Marxism and not rely on the Constitution, the angry reaction would help us understand Paul’s life when he started preaching that Christ alone can save us. He had been the most pharisaic of Pharisees, the most legalistic of Mosaic lawyers. Now he suddenly appears to other Jews as a heretical welcomer of Gentiles, a traitor and apostate.
Paul’s central conviction was simple and absolute: Only God can save humanity. No human effort—even the most scrupulous observance of law—can create a human good which we can bring to God as reparation for sin and payment for grace. To be saved from itself, from sin, from the devil, and from death, humanity must open itself completely to the saving power of Jesus.
Paul never lost his love for his Jewish family, though he carried on a lifelong debate with them about the uselessness of the Law without Christ. He reminded the Gentiles that they were grafted on the parent stock of the Jews, who were still God’s chosen people, the children of the promise.
We would probably go to confession to Peter sooner than to any of the other apostles. He is perhaps a more striking example of the simple fact of holiness. Jesus says to us as he said, in effect, to Peter: “It is not you who have chosen me, but I who have chosen you. Peter, it is not human wisdom that makes it possible for you to believe, but my Father’s revelation. I, not you, build my Church.” Paul’s experience of the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus was the driving force that made him one of the most zealous, dynamic, and courageous ambassadors of Christ the Church has ever had. But persecution, humiliation, and weakness became his day-by-day carrying of the cross, material for further transformation. The dying Christ was in him; the living Christ was his life.
Saint Paul is the Patron Saint of:
“In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe, who is the refulgence of his glory, the very imprint of his being, and who sustains all things by his mighty word. When he had accomplished purification from sins, he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Hebrews 1:1-3
“Act as if everyday were the last of your life, and each action the last you perform.”
— St. Alphonsus Liguori