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Bishop THOMAS Greeting for the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul

June 29, 2018

Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ,

I greet you on this feast of the holy, glorious and all-praised leaders of the Apostles, Peter and Paul. As we have concluded the fast, we turn our attention to two pillars of the faith, martyrs for Christ, Peter and Paul.

While there are many aspects of their lives and their ministry upon which we could reflect, two in particular stand out as worthy of our consideration and emulation. Both apostles loved the Lord Jesus Christ beyond human measure. That love was borne from profound repentance. Both had fallen but both repented with their whole hearts and the merciful Lord crowned them with glory.

Saint Gregory Palamas writes on the occasion of this feast, "When Peter resorted to repentance, he not only recovered from his fall and obtained forgiveness, but was also appointed to protect Christ's Church. As you see, Paul too was rewarded with this role after his conversion, once he had made progress and become more closely God's own than the others. Repentance which is true and truly from the heart persuades the penitent not to sin any more, not to mix with corrupt people, and not to gape in curiosity at evil pleasures, but to despise things present, cling to things to come, struggle against passions, seek after virtues, be self-controlled in every respect, keep vigil with prayers to God, and shun dishonest gain. It convinces him to be merciful to those who wrong him, gracious to those who ask something of him, ready with all his heart to bend down and help in any way he can, whether by words, actions or money, all who seek his assistance, that through kindness to his fellow-man he might gain God's love in return for loving his neighbor, draw the divine favor to himself, and attain to eternal mercy and God's everlasting blessing and grace."

We honor Saint Peter and Saint Paul today for their zeal in spreading the Gospel. Let us imitate their repentance so that we may love the Lord with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our being. Amen.

Yours in Christ,

+Rt. Rev. Bishop Thomas (Joseph)
Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Oakland, Charleston, and the Mid-Atlantic