Brothers and sisters,
It is with joy that I invite you to come to Great Vespers this Saturday evening to begin our celebration of the memory of the “first enthroned of the Apostles, and teachers of the universe, Peter and Paul.”
In the iconography of the Church these two great Apostles are often shown embracing each other. This reminds us that the division that formerly existed between Jew and Gentile has been abolished, for Christ has made peace between us by His own precious blood. He has reconciled us, and hence Paul who was sent to preach to the Gentiles embraces and is embraced by Peter who taught, chiefly, those of the circumcision (Gal. 2:7). This is in spite of the very real challenges that faced the early Church in reconciling the nations who had been so long divided. In their embrace we see clearly that with God, all things are possible. “For He [Jesus] is the peace between us, and has made the two into one entity and broken down the barrier which used to keep them apart, by destroying in His own person the hostility…Through Him, then, we both in one Spirit have free access to the Father.” (Eph. 2:14, 18)
But is this destruction of the hostility between Jew and Gentile the only division which has been overcome by the cross? Far from it! The hostility betwee male and female has also been overcome; the hostility between slave and free man has also been overcome (Gal. 3:28); the hostility between brothers who inherited the murderous envy of Cain has also been overcome; the hostility between earth and heaven, between creation and Creator, has also, truly, been overcome!
In the embrace of these two chief Apostles we are given an image of the reconciliation of all things by the precious Cross of Christ.
Let us gather this weekend to ask their intercessions, that we too would be reconciled to one another, surrenduring our whole life to Christ our God.