Vatican City, 29 June 2014 (VIS) – After celebrating Mass in the Vatican basilica with the new metropolitan archbishops, the Pope appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, as on every Sunday. He remarked that ever since ancient times, the Church of Rome has celebrated the apostles Peter and Paul in a single festivity on the same day, 29 June, so that “the faith in Jesus Christ which made them brothers and martyrs made them into a single entity”.
“St. Peter and St. Paul, so different from each other from a human point of view, were chosen personally by the Lord Jesus and responded to His call, offering all their lives. In both, Christ's grace achieved great things, transforming them. Simon had denied Jesus in the dramatic moment of the passion; Saul had harshly persecuted Christians. But both welcomed God's love and allowed themselves to be transformed by His mercy; they thus became friends and apostles of Christ. They therefore continue to speak to the Church and even nowadays they show us the path of salvation. If we too fall prey to the gravest sins and the darkest night, then God is always able to transform our heart and forgive us everything, thus transforming the darkness of our sin into a dawn of light”.
He went on to cite the Acts of the Apostles, which demonstrate many aspects of their witness. “Peter, for example, teaches us to look to the poor through the eyes of faith and to give them that which is most precious: the power of the name of Jesus. This is what he did with the paralytic; he gave him what he had, which was Jesus”. And the episode of Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus, the fulcrum of his life, “clearly marks a before and after. Before, Paul was an arch-enemy of the Church. After, he placed all his existence at the service of the Gospel. Also for us, the encounter with the Word of Christ is able to completely transform our lives. It is not possible to listen to this Word and stand firm, unswayed in our habits. It gives us the impetus to defeat the selfishness we have in our hearts, to follow decisively that Master who gave His life for His friends. But it is He Who, with His word, changes us; it is He Who transforms us; it is He Who forgives everything, if we open our hearts and ask for forgiveness”.
This feast day inspires great joy in us, because it places us before the work of God's mercy in the hearts of two men. It is the work of God's mercy in these two men who were great sinners. And God wishes to fill us too with His grace, as He did with Peter and Paul. May the Virgin Mary help us to welcome it as they did, with an open heart, and not to receive this grace in vain! And may she support us in the hour of need, to give witness to Jesus Christ and His Gospel”.