“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
Today, we remember St. Peter and St. Paul, the greatest names ever as far as the early history of the church is concerned. In our Gospel passage today, we see that Peter was the one to whom Jesus entrusted the keys of the kingdom of heaven as the visible head of the Church. Meanwhile, Paul was the one Jesus arrested on the way to Damascus making him a great apostle to the Gentile world.
While Peter represents tradition, authority, and unity, Paul represents grace, mercy, and humanity. St. Paul says to us today, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” These words underlie the nature of the Christian life. It is both a fight and a race at the same time.
A fight against the flesh and its craving for sinful desires, a fight against the forces of darkness, a fight against the world that has rejected and continues to reject Christ. To win this fight against principalities and powers. St. Paul recommends that we put on the whole armour of God which includes truth, righteousness as a breastplate, the gospel of peace, faith as a shield, salvation as a helmet, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:12-17).
The Christian life is also a race that requires constant training, dedication, and commitment. As St. Paul says to us “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
Today we celebrate the ultimate victory of the Apostles for their efforts to keep the faith despite their struggles. Herod arrested Peter intending to bring him to trial so as to publicly make fun of him but that very night he was set free by the Angel of God. Even if he would eventually die for the sake of the Gospel, this very incident is proof that when we suffer for the sake of righteousness, we are never alone.
Let us pray: Lord God, as we celebrate the two great men who fought gallantly in laying the foundation of your church on earth, help us to follow diligently in their footsteps and win the race before us. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Bible Study: Acts 12:1-11, Ps. 34:2-9, 2 Timothy 4:6-8,17-18, Matthew 16:13-19)
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu