Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
My brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus,
Very soon I will be marking a year of beginning my work here at St. Boniface and St. Mary Czestochowa. You may get used to me by now as I am looking for every possible opportunity to celebrate or at least mention about an event liturgically celebrated throughout the Universal Church that is coming up.
This past week and the coming week, there are many feast days whether religious or secular that we will be celebrating because those days are not easily forgettable. Last Tuesday, we celebrated the birthday of Saint John the Baptist. It is a feast day for us as Catholics because Saint John had his important role in the history of salvation for mankind. He baptized Jesus and pointed at Jesus that He is God by his statement, “I am not the one you imagine me to be; that one is coming after me and I am not fit to undo his sandal.” (Acts 13:25b) We learn from Saint John the lesson of humility at the same time that we must do our task as God has asked us just like St. John the Baptist. St. John the Baptist was tirelessly proclaiming the good news and baptized so many people who repented and turned away from sin. We too, at the baptism we receive the three marks that are prophet, king and priest of Jesus Christ. We too like St. John the Baptist should go out and proclaim the kingdom of God is at hand.
The Second feast we will celebrate is happening this weekend: the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. We may not be confused that some dates we celebrate the Confession of Peter (“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God”) is commemorated on 18 January, and the Conversion of Paul (on the approach to Damascus) a week later on 25 January. On 29 June we commemorate the martyrdoms of both apostles. The date is the anniversary of a day around 258, under the Valerian persecution, when the tradition was believed to be the remains of the two apostles were both moved temporarily to prevent them from falling into the hands of the persecutors. St. Peter is the Patron saint for our parish. He had the greatest characteristic way he interacted with Jesus. I was known to profess the Christ and also the denier of Christ. We have St. Paul a great companion of Christ who once persecuted the Christians but converted to be the great Christ’s apostle for the gentiles. We are the gentiles, without St. Paul’s enlightenment we may not be able to be what we are today.
Last, we are going to celebrate the Fourth of July, the feast of Independence Day for Americans in particular and for all you who love freedom. On this very day much fun activities we will have, much food and drink we will consume and much joy each of us will receive and distribute to all. However, as Christians, we will not and must not forget Jesus Christ the True Man who liberates us from sin and has power to bring us back to the heavenly Father.
Let us celebrate all the feasts that God gives to us. We should be humble and courage like Saint John the Baptist. We should be brave and have fortitude like Saint Peter our first pope. We should be compassionate and zealous for Christ like Saint Paul. And we must be proud to profess the faith in Christ and through this faith our ancestors had left their beloved homeland and created the new land, new safety environment for us to live. We gained independence from the oppressor and continue to integrate this attitude to our faith in Christ – that through Christ once again we gain freedom from sins.
Rev. JosephMary Quoc Vuong