On 29 June, the Orthodox Church celebrates two of the best known saints, Peter and Paul the Apostles. The two Apostles died martyrs’ death in Rome, during the persecution instituted by Emperor Nero, in 67.
On this great feast, the Divine Liturgy was celebrated at the Patriarchal Cathedral by His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church together with His Grace Varlaam Ploiesteanul, Assistant Bishop to the Patriarch.
Confession of the faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ – foundation of the Church
His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel delivered a sermon in which he explained that Jesus Christ, our Lord, changed Peter’s name from Simon in order to show him a vocation in the name itself, namely to confess the faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ as foundation of the Church.
“First, Saint Peter the Apostle was named Simon, but Christ, the Lord, changed his name into Chefa, which means Peter. In Hebrew and Greek the name Peter means a stone that you can throw from one side to another, but the confession of faith that he did, namely that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God was called the stone of confession, namely the rock. He is not named rock, but the confession of the divinity of Christ is; because he confesses this faith which is the foundation stone of the Church he is called Peter, Petros, Chefa, in the Hebrew. Thus, Jesus Christ, the Saviour, changes his name to show a vocation in his name, namely to confess the faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ as foundation of the Church”, His Beatitude said.
Saint Paul the Apostle – the greatest missionary of the Church of all times
The Patriarch of Romania spoke about the wonderful conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle who turned from a fierce persecutor of the Christians into the greatest missionary of the Church of all times.
“Saint Paul the Apostle was a persecutor of the Church who has become, through conversion, the greatest missionary of the Church of all times. Here we see the work of the grace of God, as Saint John Chrysostom says: “have you seen the power of the grace of the Holy Spirit? He made the wolf guard the sheep, he turned a persecutor into a great protector and missionary of the Church of Christ. Saint Paul the Apostle is a great missionary because he spread the Gospel of Christ in Asia Minor, and in some parts of Europe, for three decades”.
Saint Peter the Apostle and Saint Paul the Apostle confess the divinity of Christ
His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church showed that the two Saints Apostles, although different from intellectual point of view, have several features that make them resemble to each other. His Beatitude emphasised the fact that the Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles have the confession of the divinity of Christ, our Saviour, as common characteristic feature.
“First of all Saint Peter the Apostle and Saint Paul the Apostle confess the divinity of Christ. Saint Peter saw a man and said: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”. And Christ, the Lord told him: “This was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.”. This is why, on the basis on this confession of the faith in the divinity of Christ, he was considered the one who expressed the stone of the confession of the faith, and Christ, the Saviour said: “On this rock I will build my church”. Saint Paul the Apostle also confesses that Jesus Christ is true God, is the Son of the eternal God who was made man out of love or humans and for their salvation. This is why Saint Paul the Apostle says in the Epistle to Colossians 2:9: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” and in the Epistle to Timothy 3:16 he says: “Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh,was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels,was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world,was taken up in glory”, the Primate of the Romanian Orthodox Church said.
These two great apostles have special love for the Church
The Patriarch of Romania underlined the fact that another common virtue of the two Saints Apostles is the sacrificial love for Christ and for the Church: “They loved Christ till death and gave their lives confessing Christ, so that the proof of their love was done with the price of their lives. Not only that they confess that Christ is the Saviour, but they also feel that Christ is the Saviour, the giver of eternal life, salvation, happiness and joy in the Kingdom of God. These two great apostles have special love for the Church. They fight for the unity of the Church, for the truth of the Church, endure much sufferance, beating, persecution, imprisonment, humiliation, hunger, all kinds of dangers to spread the Church of Christ in the world through the preaching of the Gospel of the eternal love of Christ for the humans. For example, Saint Paul the Apostle says: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers shall ever separate us from Christ, because although we die every day in all these things we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ.”
To end with, His Beatitude congratulated all those of the names of Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles.
“On this holy day and of great celebration of Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles we pray Jesus Christ, our Saviour, to give us, for the intercession of these two Saints Martyr Apostles, strong faith in the Divinity of Christ, love for Christ and His Church, to make us confessors of the right faith, preachers of the Gospel of the saving love of Christ and give us the joy to be servants of Christ for the glory of God and for our salvation. We wish all those named Peter or Paul or of names derived long life in good health, for the joy of their families, of the Church and of our people”, the Primate of the Romanian Orthodox Church also said.
To end with the Divine Liturgy the faithful present received small icons of Saints Peter and Paul the Apostles.