apostles In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be!

Today we gather to honor and celebrate the feast of the Holy, Glorious, and All-Laudable Apostles Peter and Paul. The Apostles had it rough – twelve men, along with some of the other followers of Christ during His earthly ministry – these few people with the task of spreading the Gospel to the world. Christ came into the world to reveal the fullness of the Truth about both God and man, and also to provide man a way to reach the potential for which he was created. We were created for relationship with God, to share with God, by His grace, in everything that He is. We were created with a very high calling. Christ came to remind us of that calling, and to show us how to exist in the way that God would have us be. It’s much more than just believing certain ontological facts, it’s much more than sensations and feelings – we are created for union with God in Christ.

It is this Gospel that the Apostles were called to reveal to the world. And there are several facets of the Gospel preached by the Apostles that are important for us to remember (and, according to our own calling, to emulate). 1 – The Apostles preached with words. They shared the teachings that Christ had entrusted to them, most especially (as St Paul says) they preach Christ and Him crucified. They preached Christ and His Kingdom to a world lost in sin and confusion. 2 – The Apostles also preached with their actions. In several of his Epistles, St. Paul calls on the people to be emulators of him, even as he is an emulator of Christ. Christ Himself, in His preaching, called on people not only to confess Him with their mouth, but also to do the deeds He called them to do. By the witness of their lives, the Apostles preached Christ and the Kingdom. 3 – Finally, the Apostles also preached by their spiritual fatherhood. It’s very interesting to see what some of our Saints have to say about the ministry of the Apostles. The Saints point out that real spiritual development takes place because we have an experienced teacher, who can lead us into that experience of Christ. The Apostles had the most intimate knowledge of Christ, and it was with this personal experience of the Godman that they were able to also lead others to have that same experience with the Incarnate Lord.

A point that I think is important to remember, especially in light of some of the things going on in our country and the way some Christian groups choose to respond to it – take special note that the Apostles preached Christ and the Kingdom, they did not lecture on morality. Look at the homilies of our Lord – He would call the Jews (the chosen people) to repentance and to account for their faith. But when He preached to the Gentiles, He preached the Kingdom of God. Look at the Apostles – to the masses they preached Christ and Him crucified, they called people to conversion and to salvation. In their letters, which were to the Christian Churches, they would call people out for their sin and they would preach morality and proper living. I think this distinction is important because, as St. Paul says, some people need milk, and others are ready for strong meat. Those who don’t know Christ don’t need to hear us condemning their actions – in fact, if they don’t accept Christ, then they have no reason to listen to us at all. Those outside of the Church need to hear about Christ. [And I’m not saying that we can never state what the Church teaches and believes; we must do that; but the focus of our ministry is to share the Gospel with the world.] We preach Christ to the world, and the meat we preach and share within the Church, with those who have already accepted Christ.

So today, we remember those few chosen by Christ to share His Gospel with the entire world. It’s amazing now, 2000 years later, to look around and see that Christianity (in all its various forms) is now the largest religion in the world. God blessed their efforts, and we are some of the fruit of that labor.

As a last word about how we join our work to that of the Apostles…We live our lives like the Apostles, and the Gospel shares itself! As we read in the Holy Scriptures, the early Christians were known by their love for one another – we’re also told to be salt and life and light for the world. If we live the Gospel that the Apostles preached, that may well be our greatest missionary contribution to Christ’s Holy Church.

By the prayers of the Holy, Glorious, and All-Laudable Apostles Peter and Paul, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us, Amen.

Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

Posted by Matthew Jackson

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