On this, the feast of the great Saints Peter and Paul, newly ordained priest Fr. Craig DeYoung (@CraigDeYoung) delivered a wonderful homily that made me think about these two men anew.
It’s tempting to see saints—especially those so prominent in scripture as Peter and Paul—as something more than human, superhuman if you will. But Father’s homily was a great reminder of our error when we do this.
We forget, as Fr. Craig reminded us, that Peter was a man “of little faith” who doubted (Matthew 14:31), denied Jesus three times in His hour of need (Luke 22:54–62), and resumed his fishing career (John 21:3) despite seeing the risen Christ (Matthew 28:17) and being called by Christ to help Him build His Church (Matthew 16:18).
And what about the great Saint Paul? To be blunt, he was a persecutor (and possibly a murderer) of Christians (Acts 8:13, Acts 9:1–2) and held people’s coats as they stoned St. Stephen to death (Acts 7:58).
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I come not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
There have been times in my own life (and I’m guessing yours too) where I felt unworthy of love because of my sins and when I was convinced that change was hopeless. I’d already had sex so I’d never be a virgin again. I’d hurt and used women. How could I expect to find true love? How was I even deserving of it?
The more I read the Gospels, though, the less I beat myself up over my own sins, because I see how sinful were the people who Christ himself called as His disciples. So too all the saints throughout the ages (with the exception of Mary, the Mother of God, who was protected from sin by a singular gift of grace). In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find one of your sins that any number of saints—and many of Christ’s original Apostles—didn’t share. Yet Christ called them all to be saints.
“Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
This is the beauty of Christ’s love; He created us and He loves us. He’s not concerned with who we were. But He cares deeply about who we can become—saints.
So, if you ever feel unworthy of love because of the sexual sins in your past, or if you’re ever tempted to think there’s no point in seeking chastity now because you’re hopelessly broken, remember that Christ built His Church on a man who denied Him and called one of His biggest persecutors to be the author of a third of the New Testament. He called both these sinful men to be saints, and they answered that call. He calls each of us too.
You are worthy of love because you are worthy of the love of Jesus Christ, who is love itself.
Simon the denier repented and became Peter the Rock upon whom Christ built His Church. Saul the Persecutor converted and became Paul the Great Evangelizer whose divinely inspired writings brought countless millions to Christ.
Who is Christ calling you to become when you forgive yourself for your past?
Image: Donut_Diva / https://flic.kr/p/Ftdhp