Today is a great Solemnity in the Catholic Church. The two pillars of the Church, Saint Peter and Paul.
We hear in today’s first reading about Saint Peter being thrown in Jail during the Passover in Jerusalem, exactly one year after the Crucifixion of Jesus. And God sends an angel to free Saint Peter because God still has plans for Saint Peter for the next 40 to 50 years before Saint Peter is killed in Rome.
The second reading talks about Saint Paul being in prison at the end of his life, 40 – 50 years after our First Reading. Paul, after his initial conversion, spent another 40-50 years preaching. We see him also in jail in our 2nd reading, but Saint Paul now knows that it is the end. He writes this letter to Timothy from a jail cell, perhaps sharing that cell with Saint Peter. Tradition says that Saint Peter and Saint Paul were martyred on the same day.
Saint Paul, in his letter to Timothy, knows now that it is the end. He says “the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me.”
Saint Paul is NOT presuming his entrance into Heaven in our 2nd reading, but rather must have had some special vision from God, right near the end, where God in some way assured Saint Paul that he would go to Heaven.
One of the takeaways from these two readings is that some of us are at the beginning of our mission like the young Saint Peter in our first reading. Others of us may be nearing the end of our mission, like the Jailed Saint Paul at the end of his life. Whether we are at the beginning or the end of our ministry, all of us, just like Saints Peter and Paul, are given the opportunity to cooperate with God’s grace to become saints. Let us open our hearts to what God is desiring to do through each of us today, so that we can one day join Saint Peter and Saint Paul in the eternal bliss of Heaven!