SS PETER AND PAUL
acts 12:1-11; 2 timothy 4:6-8, 17-18; matthew 16:13-19
allen gardiner was a british royal navy officer and a missionary to south africa, chile and patagonia. despite the many hardships he experienced during his missionary life, he said: «while GOD gives me strength, failure will not daunt me.» he died, in 1851 at the age of 57, of disease and starvation while serving on picton island. his body was found days later with his diary nearby. it bore the record of hunger, thirst, wounds, and loneliness. the last entries showed the struggle of his shaking hand as he tried to write legibly: «i am, by his abounding grace, kept in perfect peace, refreshed with a sense of my saviour’s love… i am overwhelmed by the grace of GOD.»
peter and paul, like gardiner, could write and talk about the abounding grace of GOD in their lives!
the first reading recounts GOD’s dramatic rescue of peter from prison. four squads of four soldiers each guard peter, who is secured by double chains. an angel leads a dazed peter (virtually by the hand) past the guards and past the closed iron gates. the whole episode indicates that peter’s escape is through GOD’s grace.
in the gospel, JESUS tells peter that it is GOD’s grace alone that has revealed to him that JESUS is the CHRIST.
paul’s words to timothy in the second reading—«i was rescued from the lion’s mouth»—attest to GOD’s grace, which has preserved him «from every threat.» because of GOD’s abounding grace, paul could write «we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed» (2 corinthians 4:8-9).
through the hardships and difficulties of our lives—nothing compared with the hardships that peter and paul (and allen gardiner) underwent—can you and i feel GOD’s abounding and overwhelming grace?