Fallible Giants: Peter and Paul – Br. David Vryhof

Br. David Vryhof

Ezekiel 34:11-16
II Timothy 4:1-9
John 21:15-19

We stand today in the presence of two of the giants of our faith: the Apostles Peter and Paul.  No one has had a more profound influence on the Christian faith and on the Church than these two men.  Both of them have their own feast – Peter on January 18 for his confession of Jesus as the Messiah and Paul on January 25 for his conversion – but they are commemorated together on this day, June 29, because of the Church’s tradition that they both died as martyrs in Rome during the persecution under Nero in the year 64.  Today we observe them as martyrs for the faith.

They are very different figures: Peter was a simple man, not highly educated and possibly illiterate, a fisherman from Galilee.  Paul was an extremely well-educated, cosmopolitan Jew who was also a Roman citizen.  He was from a notable family line and had received an excellent education.  The two men didn’t always agree.  Peter was the chief ambassador to Jewish believers, while Paul focused his efforts on winning Gentiles to the faith.  Peter was centered in Jerusalem and the surrounding area, while Paul’s missions extended throughout Asia Minor and even to Rome.  One of their most heated conflicts was around the question of whether Gentile believers ought to comply with Jewish law.  Yet, their commitment to Christ and to the proclamation of the Gospel enabled them to overcome their differences.  Both were zealous to the end.  The tradition holds that Peter was crucified, upside-down, and that Paul, because he was a Roman citizen, was beheaded rather than crucified. Read More