Post date: Jun 30, 2014 11:48:49 PM
A familiar icon of Ss. Peter and Paul shows them holding upon their hands a church. The church is representative of the entire church and the two apostles are shown as pillars and upholders of the Church. This representation does not take anything away from Christ as the Founder, Foundation, and Head of the Church. Rather, as each Christian is called to become light by being resplendent with the light of Christ, the icon conveys to us the conviction of the Church that the two preeminent apostles became, through their tireless work for the Gospel, foundations of the Church as well. The icon is, in its own way, a reminder of the transformation that happens with us in the course of our spiritual journey; a reminder that we become by grace what God is by nature.
Another icon shows the two saints embracing. I sometimes wonder if this icon is another reminder, in this case reminding us that we can have disagreements and remain brothers and sisters in Christ, united in love for one another. The Bible tells us that St. Paul reproved St. Peter to his face when the latter was in the wrong. We also have St. Peter writing that St. Paul’s letter are hard to understand and easy to misconstrue. Perhaps we can imagine St. Peter wishing that St. Paul would be more clear, or do things differently, yet even as he may have wished so, he calls him “our beloved brother Paul” (2 Pet. 3:15).
Ss. Peter and Paul are a reflection of humanity. Each in his life illustrates the struggles that we, too encounter as we face the realities of our sinfulness. At the same time, each also illustrates how the defeat of sin by Christ enters in our lives and allows us to defeat sin and become holy. The two saints are together the leaders of the apostles, martyrs for the faith, and embrace each other eternally in the kingdom.
May the prayers of Ss. Peter and Paul be our helpers always,