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Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles 2008

 
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Fr.Paul Weinberger
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Joined: 06 May 2005
Posts: 199
Location: Greenville, Texas

PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 7:43 pm    Post subject: Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles 2008 Reply with quote

Feast of Saints Peter and Paul 2008
Homily by:
Father Paul Weinberger
Saint William the Confessor Catholic Church
Greenville, Texas
June 29, 2008

I Paul am already being poured out like a libation and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy

Amen

If you look at the cover of the bulletin there is a picture of the most prominent aspects of the façade of the Basilica of St. Paul, the Apostle, outside the walls of the Vatican. Let us start at the top. The sky looks like it is almost as blue as the sky here in Texas. Beneath the cross in very small letters are two words written in Latin, Spes Unica. Spes means, “hope” and Unica means, “unique or only.” “Our only hope is in the cross.” That is what it means in English. Below that you have a mosaic that is gracing the exterior of the entrance to St. Paul’s Basilica.

Full View

There is a figure of Christ and one hand is raised in blessing ; the other hand holds a book with a Latin inscription, which when translated into English means, “My sheep hear my voice and I give them eternal life”. Christ is seated on His throne in Heaven and on the side where His hand is raised in blessing; there is the figure of St. Peter. We just heard in the Gospel,

To you Peter, I will give the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.

So you see Peter holding keys in his hand. On the other side of Christ is the figure of St. Paul; Peter and Paul are always joined in the Litany. Today is the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles. St. Paul has a sword for a couple of reasons. The Romans cut off his head with a sword, but also because Saint Paul wrote about the Word of God.

The Word of God is alive; it strikes to the heart. It pierces more surely than a two-edged sword.

That is why we don’t see it as a good thing to skip the readings and come late for Mass. The Word of God is alive.

Beneath Christ in the picture is another image of Christ as the Lamb of God. Once Saint John the Baptist, who was with his disciples, pointed at Christ and said, “Look, there is the lamb of God.” Beneath the Lamb you see springs that are unending springs of water. Christ promised that He would give us a wellspring, which would never end; He is eternal. Then you see the sheep coming up to drink; they are symbols of the Christians coming to drink from Christ. This is a very beautiful way to start a year, talking about Saint Paul the Apostle.

Months ago Pope Benedict declared that on this day we would begin a Holy Year. Three hundred and sixty five days from now it will draw to a close. Today is the first step and to help us in this, you might purchase the book titled, “The Apostles” by Pope Benedict XVI.

This book can be purchased HERE

You can see the book is not large like the phone book. There is a chapter on each of the Apostles and then another chapter on St. Paul. Judas betrayed Christ so he was replaced. But, St. Paul, an Apostle describes himself as being born out of natural order or out of time; something along those lines, because he did not become an Apostle when Christ walked the earth and before He ascended into Heaven. He came onto the scene after the Ascension.

To appreciate this Feast Day we have to start at the beginning. If we start at the beginning we have the whole year to meditate on this figure of St. Paul. The prayers in the Mass speak of St. Peter as being the Apostle to the children of Israel, to the Jews. St. Paul, a Jew himself, and a Roman citizen was the Apostle to the non-Jews, to the Gentiles, the Nations. They all mean the same thing. We see that the mission of the Church is to those inside the Church but most of the Church is outside and we need to bring them into union, back to the fold as it is with Christ. In the prayers read from the Roman Missal you will hear those words again and again throughout the rest of the Mass.

In the pope’s book, “The Apostles”, on page #129, the pope talks about St. Paul before his conversion. He was a religious man but he took it too far and it got him into a lot of trouble. The pope said,

Quote:
Before his conversion, Paul had not been a man distant from God and from His law. On the contrary…he had been observant with an observance with an observance faithful to the point of fanaticism. In the light of the encounter with Christ however, he understood that with this he had sought to build up himself and his own justice and that with all this justice he had lived for himself.


St. Paul admits he was way off track before he was converted.

Quote:
He realized that a new approach in his life was absolutely essential and we find this new approach expressed in his words, “The life I live now in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Paul therefore no longer lives for himself, for his own justice, he lives for Christ and with Christ. In giving himself he is no longer seeking and building himself up.


This is a new orientation for him. Before we can understand Saint Paul we have to understand Saul, the man he was before he was converted.

Today when you leave Church, as you go out and come to those glass doors, on that side is a piece of slate rock and on it an artist painted the image of St. Augustine. On the other side is Saint Stephen, the deacon. For years those pieces of slate were in my office right across from my desk. For years I looked at St. Stephen and thought that the artist had painted a hat on him, but if you look closely he is not wearing a hat…it is a rock. You see, he was the first martyr after Jesus ascended to Heaven; he was stoned to death. That is why the artist placed a large stone on his head. He is wearing a vestment similar to mine but his is the vestment of a deacon. St. Stephen is holding the vestment out in front of himself and in the folds of the vestment are a lot of other stones. This is emphasizing his manner of death. It is kind of like St. Paul with the sword. When St. Stephen was stoned to death it is because he was witnessing for Christ and as he witnessed for Christ many of the Jews around him were incensed and they began to place their cloaks at the feet of a certain man named Saul. They went over and picked up the large rocks to kill Stephen and Saul just stood there. His inaction gave his consent.

So, this is where we find Saul in the Acts of the Apostles. Perhaps this week you can start going through the Acts of the Apostles, after the Gospels come the Acts of the Apostles from St. Luke. You begin to see this figure of Saul looming on the horizon like a storm cloud with similar bad results. Then Saul got the necessary paperwork from the people in Jerusalem to go to Damascus to round up some more Christians to hand them over and put them in jail.

On his way to Damascus, Saul met Christ, Who had appeared to him on the road and temporarily Saul was blinded. He heard the voice of Christ but could not see him. Christ said to Saul,

Saul, Saul why do you persecute Me?

The fact is that Christ is equating persecuting the Church with persecuting Christ. If you don’t like it, take it up with Christ. Saul was led into the city where he neither ate nor drank for three days and on the third day he requested to be Baptized. Ananias was told by the Risen Christ to go and Baptize Saul. Ananias tried to talk Jesus out of Baptizing Saul but Jesus said to him,

He is the instrument I have chosen to spread My words to the ends of the world; he will have much to suffer.

That is exactly what happened. So St. Paul, after Baptism, became a new creature and all of a sudden he strained every fiber in his body to spread the Word of God to the ends of the earth. He even planned to go as far as Spain. Two thousand years ago Spain was known as the end of the known world. Saul didn’t make it to Spain but he made it as far as Rome, where he was martyred. For us, Rome is the city, which is most treasured because the blood of two Apostles was shed, the blood of Saints Peter and Paul. Just months apart in their deaths, St. Paul was martyred and as a Roman citizen; he was not crucified as St. Peter was, but his head was cut off. There are Churches built over the sites of their burials.

Lets look at St. Paul and his tremendous success. Parents should consider reading with their children, the Letters of St. Paul. Start with baby steps and read just a paragraph or so; they are not long letters. Your children could read them to you or you could read them to your children. Any way you read them you will definitely benefit in this year of grace dedicated to the figure of St. Paul. It is the 2000th anniversary of his birthday. It is kind of like what we celebrated eight years ago known as Y2K, the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ.

I am not ready to let the figure of St. Stephen go yet. We owe so much to him. This is why St. Paul is so loved by Catholic Christians as well as non-Catholic Christians. Even people who aren’t Christians have a great love for St. Paul. There are only a few modern ears, who tremble at St. Paul’s words concerning women being submissive to their husbands. That is ridiculous and it is a ridiculous interpretation of St. Paul. What St. Paul is saying is that wives and husbands should be in a contest to see who can be more humble in the service of the other. But don’t let the facts get in the way.

While St. Stephen was being stoned with Saul standing on the sidelines, he raised his voice to Heaven and said what Jesus said from His place of execution. St. Stephen said,

Quote:
Father, forgive them, they know not what they are doing.


Saint Stephen said that and he essentially unleashed a great force, which bore down on one of the central figures there, who was persecuting him. When you think of St. Paul or his conversion, most people would never connect him to St. Stephen. St. Paul would go forth like a man possessed but he was self-possessed. He was pouring himself like a drink, a libation. Good parents know exactly what St. Paul is talking about. He was spending his life in the service of the Church, to bring the lost sheep back in unity with Christ, the Good Shepherd. We can trace this Apostle, this house on fire, all the way back to St. Stephen, who in a sense lit the match that started the fire that got the conversion going in Saul, now St. Paul.

Can you imagine what would happen if you and I and every other Christian in the world modeled our lives on St. Paul, recognizing how we are not perfect but imperfect, especially when it comes to serving Christ? What if we went around with the same attitude as St. Stephen instead of calculating all the people who hurt us and say we are going to hurt them? St. Stephen unleashed a great force onto the world stage and it wasn’t St. Paul, it was Divine Mercy. The Divine Mercy working through St. Stephen touched the heart of Saul, whom we know today as St. Paul. So, for everyone out there, who thinks they can’t change, just think about St. Paul, who made the prodigal son look like a girl scout. He was really someone with whom you had to reckon but he was converted through the prayers and sacrifice of St. Stephen.

I Paul, am already being poured out like a libation and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy

Amen
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