Flawsome Saints: Peter and Paul

Having spent the morning shopping for bathroom fittings, I have a better claim to critique the interior decor of superstores than I have to blog about two such supersaints as Peter and Paul. However, a thought struck me at Vigils which may be worth pursuing. The word ‘flawsome’ doesn’t exist, but ought to. It conveys exactly what Peter and Paul were: flawed, but awesome.

Take Peter, dear hot-headed, wobbly Peter, always saying the wrong thing and not very brave when confronted by the maid in Pilate’s palace yard. Who would choose him to be head of the infant Church? He wasn’t an administrator; he wasn’t a particularly deep thinker; nothing in his former life suggested he would be a good leader. He knew about fish and family life, and that seems to have been enough for the Lord, who called him to be a fisher of souls, to pour all his love and devotion into the work of service. There is something tremendously encouraging about Peter. He didn’t change, as far as we know; he was still inclined to get muddled when confronted with eloquent men like Paul, but he saw clearly with his heart, welcomed gentiles into the Church, acknowledged that nothing God had made could ever be unclean and ultimately, when put to the test, met death bravely.

Then there is Paul, bald-headed, argumentative, a stickler for detail, determined to root out Christian heresy. Who would choose him to preach the gospel to the gentiles, to travel thousands of miles to win people to Christ? Yet the Lord did. Paul left behind not only his old name and his theological and philosophical certainties, he accepted a way of life that would once have shocked him with its lack of conformity to the rules of Kasrut, becoming someone able to acknowledge his own weakness, unafraid of saying how much he loved the children of God. He didn’t stop being a man of great learning; he continued to enjoy arguing and tripping up his opponents when he could, but now it was no longer Saul who was centre stage but Christ in him. Paul too is tremendously encouraging, and like Peter, showed real courage when he was put to death.

So, flawed but awesome both. May SS Peter and Paul pray for us who are mainly just flawed.


7 thoughts on “Flawsome Saints: Peter and Paul”

  1. I think the thing about St. Peter was that he “had a lot of try” as we say in the west. He didn’t give up, knew his faults, surely, but kept on working in his new vocation for the Lord. I am reminded of a t-shirt I once saw on a young man, printed on the front “Offshore Shops”, with a nautical theme, on the back was printed “Supplying Fisher’s of Men. Simon Peter’s Offshore Shops. You catch’em, He’ll clean’em!” Both Peter and Paul kept trying, the goal in sight made up for their hardships and personal failings, a good example for us all.

  2. Magnificent words from St Augustine in this morning’s Office of Readings, too. I quote a bit : “Quite rightly did the Lord after his resurrection entrust his sheep to Peter to be fed. It is not, you see, that he alone among the disciples was fit to feed the Lord’s sheep; but when Christ speaks to one man, unity is being commended to us. And he first speaks to Peter, because Peter is the first among the apostles. Do not be sad, Apostle. Answer once, answer again, answer a third time. Let confession conquer three times with love, because self-assurance [praesumptio] was conquered three times by fear. What you had bound three times must be loosed three times. Loose through love what you had bound through fear.”

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