Today we jointly honor St. Peter and St. Paul, and the reason we take them together is that they both brought the Gospel to Rome. Paul, in the second reading, speaks from Rome, saying, “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Yesterday we honored St. Irenaeus who wrote about the way the Apostles passed on the Gospel in every Mediterranean city. He said we could uncover the full teachings of Christ left in any of those cities, but he said it would be easier to settle on Rome. Here is what he wrote:
Since, however, it would be very tedious to reckon up the succession of all the churches we will indicate that tradition derived from the apostles of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul. It is a matter of necessity that every church should agree with this church.”
This feast of Peter and Paul brings to mind the old Catholic practice of celebrating our feast days, and it opens the way for me to tell another of my Korea stories. As a twenty-six year old priest, in May of 1954, I was stationed at the Korean port town of Sokcho, and I fell in with a Peter and a Paul. They had come from a Benedictine parish in North Korea. Each of them had a young wife, and they used the one room they shared as a radio repair shop.
At the beginning of June, Peter and Paul had started on building a two-room house for themselves and their wives when two things happened. For one thing, Peter’s wife’s time came, and he had to take her off to her parents’ mountain home for the birth. The other thing was that a typhoon washed out all our bridges, and many houses and roads.
I clumsily helped Paul finish their house, and with him I worried about Peter and his wife. By the third week of June we had the house’s roof thatched; then on a sunny day Peter, the wife and baby appeared. Theresa had given birth on a high hillside as she hung to a pine tree above the river that swept off her parent’s home.
Never mind. We had a great feast day party, with thirty friends sharing each nine by nine floor, we shoveled in the rice and sang the songs.