Troparion — Tone 4
O first-enthroned of the Apostles, and teachers of the universe, intercede with the Master of all to grant peace to the world, and to our souls great mercy.
Kontakion — Tone 2
O Lord, You have taken to Yourself the steadfast and divinely-inspired heralds, the leaders of Your disciples, for the enjoyment of Your blessings for and their rest; for You have accepted their labors and their deaths as above all burnt offerings, for You alone know the hearts of men.
Reading from the Book of 1 Peter
Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;
but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written,
“Be holy, for I am holy.”
And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;
knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,
but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
~Chapter: 1 Verses: 13-19
Reading from the Book of Matthew
When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
~Chapter: 16 Verses: 13-19
Reading from the Gospel of Matthew
And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see:
The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.”
As they departed, Jesus began to say to the multitudes concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?
But what did you go out to see? A man clothed in soft garments? Indeed, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.
But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and more than a prophet.
For this is he of whom it is written: ‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.’
Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force.
For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
~Chapter: 11 Verses: 2-15
Saints Peter and Paul, in Greek iconography we see them drawn similar to the Koryphaioi. The koryphaioi were leaders of the chorus in ancient Greek tragedy. They set the pattern for the singing, and also for the dance movements and gestures of the chorus. Before Sophocles, there were twelve members of the chorus, and in Saints Peter and Paul we have the leaders of the twelve Apostles. Each represents a different part of Christ’s ministry and the early church.
Both Saint Peter and Saint Paul received new names, as they began life with Christ and then into what would become the early church. Simon the fisherman became known as Cephas or Peter after confessing Jesus as the Son of God.
Saint Peter, brother Andrew, was a fisherman on the sea of Galilee. He was one of the apostles we know was married, and Christ healed his mother-in-law of a fever. He, with James and John, witnessed the most important miracles of the Jesus’s earthly life. Early and steadfast recognition of Christ as the Son of God, did not keep even he, from denying Him three times on the night before the Crucifixion. Therefore, after His Resurrection, the Lord asked Peter three times if he loved Him. He was then charged with feeding his flock. It is after the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we see who would become Saint Peter, as he addressed the crowd many times and performed many miracles in Christ’s name. He baptized the first Gentile convert. He was arrested for preaching publicly and freed by an Angel. He also traveled to many places in order to proclaim the Gospel, and wrote two Epistles. He was put to death in Rome during the reign of Nero. According to Tradition, he asked to be crucified upside down, since he did not feel worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.
Saint Paul never knew Jesus in his earthly body, this man of the tribe of Benjamin born in Tarsus. He once described himself as a Hebrew, an Israelite and before following Christ was also a Pharisee and a tent-maker who had also studied the Law with Gamaliel at Jerusalem. Saul was his given name and early in life had persecuted the Church. He was present at the stoning of Saint Stephen. Then, on the road to Damascus, he was converted when Christ appeared to him. Blinded by the vision, he was healed when Ananias laid his hands on him. After his cure, he was baptized. As what would become Saint Paul he first preached the Gospel in Greece, Persia, and in Rome, and wrote fourteen Epistles. He was martyred in Rome about the year 68.
Two men of very unassuming backgrounds, each in trades and traditions that make them unlikely candidates for a religious conversion of any kind, let alone beginning an entire new movement on the words and life of a man who died as a criminal according to the laws of the times and faiths of these men before Christ. Yet one who walked among his first followers would do just that, and 30 years after his death, blinded so that he may see the truth Paul does the same. Who Christ chose as a men to lead all men, and live his earthly life with has long been a lesson in the basic truth of his message and ministry: Love. It takes more than just faith to leave behind everything and everyone to follow a man, a God, and a faith, it takes love for those next to you doing the exact same thing under just as unassuming circumstances. Even after denial, ridicule and mocking these men became voices for Christ and the hands of the Sacraments. Their common thread being Love and faith in Christ , and the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide them into what came next. These threads we all share.