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Reflection
on the Readings


 Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, WisconsinJune 20, 2008 Issue 

Celebrate the year of St. Paul

Use St. Paul as a source for prayer and draw from his example of grace

June 29, 2008 -- Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles


By Bishop Robert Morneau

photo of Bishop Robert Morneau
Bishop
Robert Morneau

Questions for reflection:

1. What is your favorite passage from the writings of St. Paul?

2. How does your conversion process compare to that of Sts. Peter and Paul?

3. How can you personally celebrate this year of St. Paul?

Pope Benedict has declared that June, 2008 - June, 2009 will be the year of St. Paul. It was 2,000 years ago that Paul was born. The Holy Father is taking this occasion to highlight St. Paul's work of evangelization, especially through Paul's writings and his fostering of unity and harmony. All of us can benefit greatly by reflecting on the life and ministry of this great apostle to the Gentiles.

What do our readings for this feast tell us about St. Paul and St. Peter?

First of all, they both experienced the cost of discipleship. Peter and Paul knew the inside of prisons. Because they proclaimed Jesus as Messiah and Lord, they were arrested and persecuted for their faith. Like their Lord, they knew suffering at every level: physical, psychological, and spiritual. They would have it no other way. In following Christ, they participated in his suffering and death. Because of this, they would know the joy of the resurrection.

Deep was their faith. Peter and Paul believed that the Lord was truly with them and would rescue them from every evil threat. It was this sense of abiding presence that even gave joy to Peter and Paul as they endured their suffering. It was this abiding presence that sustained their hope, knowing that the Lord awaited them in glory. It was this abiding presence that empowered them to love, to love even their enemies.

Another characteristic of these two saints was their on-going growth as disciples. For some time, Paul persecuted the early church, ignorant of who Jesus was and his mission in life. Peter, too, when he first began following Jesus was ignorant of the true nature of who Christ was. But in the reading today, we witness mature disciples. Paul has finished the race, his work done. Now he awaits his reward from the divine, just Judge. Peter proclaims Jesus to be the Christ and, in return, Jesus appoints him the rock upon which the Church will be built.

Here are two individuals who underwent a radical conversion, turning away from self to the mystery of God and the service of others. Here are two individuals who moved from the darkness of ignorance into the light of truth, the person of Jesus. Like them, all of us are invited into a similar process. Over the years we are to put on the mind and heart of Christ and thereby live out our true vocation.

In this year that the Church celebrates the birth anniversary of St. Paul, we might do a number of things. One would be to read carefully the letters of St. Paul and use them as a source for personal prayer. A second suggestion would be to read a biography giving us insight into the person and mission of St. Paul. A third suggestion: memorize three or four key passages from St. Paul's letters and recite them on a daily basis.

Pope Benedict has provided yet another example of leadership by inviting the entire church to reflect together on an individual, St. Paul, who continues to shape our understanding of grace and sin, salvation and redemption. For this leadership, we should be grateful.


(Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.)


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