The Glorious and all-famed chiefs of the Apostles, Peter and Paul
2 Corinthians 11:21-12:9
21 To our shame I say that we were too weak for that! But in whatever anyone is bold-I speak foolishly-I am bold also. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. 23 Are they ministers of Christ?-I speak as a fool-I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness- 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? 30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. 31 The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; 33 but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands. 1 It is doubtless not profitable for me to boast. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: 2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago-whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows-such a one was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know such a man-whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows- 4 how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 5 Of such a one I will boast; yet of myself I will not boast, except in my infirmities. 6 For though I might desire to boast, I will not be a fool; for I will speak the truth. But I refrain, lest anyone should think of me above what he sees me to be or hears from me. 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
Beloved in Christ, we offer you greetings at this most joyous time of celebration of the Holy Apostles of the Twelve, and Peter and Paul, the Chief among them.
These holy and radiant luminaries of the Church lead us continually by their words and remembrance of their deeds. Members of the Church must become strangers to this world and Sts. Peter and Paul have provided us with a clear example of what this means. Behold the words of St. Paul,
If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.
These are not the words of one who seeks glory and the praise of men! They are the words of one who seeks the praise and glory of God. Through struggles and deprivations, these God-bearers have shone forth the words of the Gospel unto farthest reaches of the world. In them, the words of Scripture are fulfilled:
5 Their sound hath gone forth into all the earth: and their words unto the ends of the world. Psalm 18:5-7
What words, what hymns of praise can we offer these holy and righteous Fathers? Every generation is in their debt. By the Lord’s Grace, they overcame the world to acquire Christ and to deposit His words, thus firmly guiding the Church. In gratitude the Church adorns these precious jewels of righteousness, preserving their memory as blessed unto eternity:
Divine grace was poured out through thy lips, O glorious Apostles, and thou wast shown to be lamps of the Church of Christ, teaching the spiritual sheep to believe in the Consubstantial Trinity, and in the One Divinity.
O holy Apostles, intercede with the merciful God, that He grant peace to the world and great mercy to our souls.