Acts 12:1-11, 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18, Matthew 16:13-19.
Fidelity means faithfulness to a person, cause, or belief, demonstrated by continuing loyalty and support. It entails allegiance to someone or on what you believe.
When we look and analyse the lives of Peter and Paul, we cannot but conclude that their lives are pointers to what it means to show fidelity to God.
They were so determined in the spread of the gospel message that neither persecution nor suffering was able to stop them. They lived their lives only for the cause of the salvation of souls and the gospel. Let us have a brief journey in the lives of the duo.
1. Peter was once a Fisherman, but when called by Jesus, Peter left everything and joined the league of the apostles.
Secondly, the bible records that Jesus visited the mother in law of Peter in Matthew 8:14, which implies that Peter had a wife and possibly children, but Peter left all and followed Jesus.
Luke told us in Acts 18:3 that Paul was a tenth maker but later became a staunch converter of souls. Their lives teach us that despite what we do and how busy we are, we should not forget that the work of God reigns supreme over everything.
So, to show their fidelity to the call and God, they leave everything.
Therefore, Ss Peter and Paul teach us that God should be the first in everything we do.
We should also consider Him as the most important. Therefore, nothing should come in between our relationship with God.
2. Despite their zeal, they also made mistakes: Peter denied the Lord three times, while Paul persecuted the Church of God. But they were transformed by the questions Jesus asks them; Simon, son of John, do you love me? (John 21:15); and; Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? (Acts 9:4).
Peter was grieved by the question of Jesus, while Paul was made blind by His words.
Jesus follows the question of Peter with; feed my sheep. Jesus charges him to shepherd his flock.
While that of Paul is; I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Now get up and go into the city, and they will tell what you must do. (Acts 9:6).
Therefore, this teaches us that despite our pasts, God can still touch us. There is hope for a change. Ss Peter and Paul encountered Jesus and encountered change. We need to pray for the grace of daily encounter. We encounter Jesus through the word and the Holy Eucharist. Moments that we spend with the Lord should change us.
3.With both experiences, SS Peter and Paul were transformed and remained in obedience to the mission given to them.
Jesus changed their names from Simon to Peter, From Saul to Paul and changed their lives. The one who denied him became the leader of the Church. The one who persecuted Him became an apostle of the gentiles, to the extent that we still read most of his epistles today.
The life of Ss Peter and Paul is a pointer that God can still use anyone.
Our pasts are nothing before God if we can obey Him and change our lives. Then, If we can seek Him with all our hearts today and ask Him to forgive us, He will transform us.
Whatever God wants you to do, He will continually work on you to lead you to your vocation.
Like these apostles, Jesus is asking us; do you truly love me? If you love me, why do you do the things you do?
He is also asking us; why are you persecuting me? When we treat others with hatred like St. Paul did, we are also persecuting Jesus.
He says in Matthew 25:40 that whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers that you do unto me. So, when we are intimidating others who belong to the body of Christ, when we are fighting their ministers, we are also persecuting Jesus.
When we are leading others astray through the lives that we live, we are also persecuting Jesus. So, like Paul, Jesus is asking us; why are you persecuting Me?
4. Truly, Ss Peter and Paul offered everything they have. They sacrifice their lives, their energy, their resources etc., for the cause of the gospel.
Today in the gospel, Jesus tells him; You are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my Church”.
Peter remained committed to this vocation. Therefore, Ss Peter and Paul are teaching us to stay committed to every course we choose in touching lives and spreading the word of God.
5.In the first reading today, we see how they put Peter in prison, and in the second reading, we see a letter Paul wrote from prison describing how he has poured out his life as a libation.
One truth about these apostles from the two readings is that they suffered but put all their hope in God. Their suffering for the gospel shows true fidelity to God.
In the first reading, the Church prays, and the angel delivers Peter. Also, in the second reading, Paul says it was the Lord who stood by Him and gave Him strength. The apostles rest all their power and hope on God. Therefore, SS Peter and Paul teach us the secret that every Christian must possess. We have to seek the presence of God and pray that He be with us in everything we do in life. This is the secret of Joshua, Joseph, David etc (Genesis 39:20-21, Joshua 6:27, 1 Samuel 18:12-15).
6. In the Acts of the Apostles, we see the long missionary journey of Paul from Jerusalem first to Syria and Asia Minor.
Then to Greece and finally to Rome. Then, at Rome, Paul was martyred.
Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom. The blood of these apostles is for the cause they believe.
It is a sign of how they put all their heart, life, hope and faith in God. It is a rare sign of fidelity seen today among believers. Therefore, Ss Peter and Paul teach us to learn how to give God all.
We show Fidelity to God in everything that we do. We prove our love to God in how we take the work given to us, how we give God all we can, and how we can remain strong and stay convinced and committed despite the challenges, the cross and oppositions we face in our Christian journey. These rare virtues are what we can learn from these great apostles Ss Peter and Paul.
May God bless you and give you the grace to remain faithful and overcome all your challenges today, Amen.