Patriarch Daniel Friday spoke about Saints Peter and Paul calling them ‘great teachers of the faith, eminent missionaries and steadfast intercessors for the life and unity of Christ’s Church.’
During his homily delivered at the Patriarchal Cathedral on the feast of the Holy and Glorious Apostles Peter and Paul, June 29, 2018, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel focused on the common aspects of their life and missionary work and offered them as examples to be followed in preaching the Gospel.
‘By their works,’ His Beatitude said, ‘they urge us to strengthen our faith, to preach the Gospel, to love the Church and to work for the healing and salvation of humans, but never by counting on ourselves more than on God’s grace which is made manifest in Christ and through Christ.’
‘United in the same faith in Jesus Christ’
The Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church noted that although Peter and Paul ‘were different as regards their place of birth, their cultural, intellectual formation, they were united in the same faith in Jesus Christ.’
The Patriarch said that the two Leaders of the Apostles, one a fisherman and the other a teacher of the Law, ‘were called by Christ to proclaim the same Gospel of his merciful love.’
Patriarch Daniel highlighted ‘their fervent faith in Christ, the Son of God, and their spiritual connection with Him.’
The Romanian Patriarch spoke about the witness of the two apostles to Christ’s divinity saying, ‘Saint Peter testifies that Jesus is not simply the son of Mary, saying: You are Christ the Son of the living God. Also, Saint Paul bears witness that in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.’
‘A strong feeling of repentance’
The Patriarch also pointed to a common virtue of the two apostles: ‘they both had a strong feeling of repentance.’
‘St Peter denied Christ three times, but then he wept bitterly as the Holy Gospel relates. He loved and professed Christ until martyrdom.’
‘Saint Paul had persecuted Christ’s Church, but then he regretted throughout his life. He worked in the Church and for the Church more than any other, as though he wanted to repay his error of having persecuted the Church.’
‘Who will separate us from the love of Christ?’
A strong love for Christ and the Church can be met at both apostles.
The Patriarch reminded that St Peter urged Christians to draw closer to Christ and ‘to keep the true faith and the unity of the Church ignoring the false prophecies.’
Patriarch Daniel said that St Paul had a sacrificial love for Christ and quoted the Epistle to Romans saying, ‘For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’
These words of St Paul ‘show us that his love of Christ was so strong that nothing could frighten him, nothing could deviate him from preaching the Gospel of Christ.’
Icon of Sts Peter and Paul
At the end of his homily, the Patriarch of Romania offered some interpretations of the icon of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.
‘They together represent the Church of Christ or the communion of Israel (Saint Peter) with all the peoples of the world who believe in Christ (Saint Paul).’
The patriarch pointed to the keys that Peter holds in his hand saying that ‘they represent repentance and forgiveness of sins, humility and merciful love through which man an enter the kingdom of God.’
Referring to the sword held by St Paul, Patriarch Daniel said ‘it represents the power of the holy word that distinguishes between heresy and truth, between selfishness and love, between death and life.’
Ending his speech, Patriarch Daniel urged everyone to pray to the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul ‘to grant us the power to be witnesses of Christ’s love in today’s world.’
Concelebrant for the Divine Liturgy was Patriarch Daniel’s assistant bishop Varlaam of Ploiesti, secretary of the Holy Synod.
Photos: Mihnea Păduraru/ZL