My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
WHO WERE THE APOSTLES PETER AND PAUL?
THE HOLY APOSTLE PETER
Peter, the preeminent Apostle of the Lord and the brother of the First-Called Apostle Andrew, was known as Simon prior to being called to the Apostleship by the Lord Jesus Christ. Simon, son of Jonas (Jonah), was a Jew of the Tribe of Simeon. He was a native of Bethsaida, an insignificant and little-known town of Galilee in Palestine. He lived in poverty during the years when Hyrcanus was the high priest of the Jews. After the repose of Peter’s mother, Peter took to wife the daughter of Aristovoulos, the brother of the holy Barnabas, and begat children of her: a son and a daughter. Simon was a simple and unlettered man. Imbued with the FEAR OF GOD, he observed all the commandments of the Lord. He walked blamelessly in His sight in all his works. Simon was a fisherman by trade. As a poor man, he provided for his family by his manual labor. Thus, he fed his wife, children, and mother-in-law.” He was fair with a slightly sallow tone to his complexion. His eyes were the color of blood like wine. His hair was white and thick. He had a long nose and eyebrows that were somewhat inverted. He was of average height with a straight and upright frame. He was intelligent and prudent. Divine zeal impelled him against injustice and wrong. He was unexacting with the penitent, receiving with ease their conversion. He was quick and fearless in retracting previous decisions, as well be seen in a later episode when the Lord washed the Disciples’ feet.
The holy Apostle Andrew went to his brother Simon and said to him, ‘WE HAVE FOUND THE MESSIAH’ (which is, being interpreted, The Christ), and he led him to Jesus. And having looked at him, Jesus said, ‘THOU ART SIMON, THE SON OF JONAS. THOU SHALL BE CALLED KEPHAS’ (which is interpreted, A STONE) [John 1:41-42]. Straightway, Peter was aflame with love for the Lord, believing in Him as the True Christ sent by God FOR THE SALVATION OF THE WORLD. Yet he neither quit his home nor forsook his occupation. He continued to provide for his household with all that was necessary for survival; in this responsibility. Simon’s brother Andrew sometimes helped him for the sake of their elderly father. And thus did the brothers live until the Lord summoned them to the Apostolic Ministry (Diakonia).
One day, after John the Baptist was imprisoned in Herod’s dungeon, the Lord Jesus Christ withdrew into Galilee. He was walking past the Sea of Galilee (which is also known as the Sea of Tiberias or the Lake of Gennesaret). He espied the two brothers: Simon who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother. They, as fishermen, were throwing a casting net into the sea. Jesus said to them, “COME AFTER ME, AND I WILL MAKE YOU FISHERS OF MEN” (Matthew 4:19). Straightway, they left the men and followed Jesus.
THE SHADOW OF THE APOSTLE PETER
The Apostles wrought many signs and wonders (miracles) among the people who magnified them. More and more believers were being added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and of women, “insomuch that they carried out the sick into the streets and laid them upon beds and pallets, in order that at least THE SHADOW OF PETER AS HE CAME MIGHT OVERSHADOW SOME OF THEM. And also the multitude kept on coming 15-16]together out of the cities round about to Jerusalem, bearing sick people and those who were troubled by unclean spirits–all of whom were being healed [ Acts 5: 15-16]. This overshadowing had not occurred in the history of Christ. But see here what Jesus had told them actually coming to pass, that “THE ONE WHO BELIEVETH IN ME, THE WORKS WHICH I DO SHALL THAT ONE DO ALSO; AND GREATER WORKS THAN THESE SHALL HE DO, BECAUSE I GO TO MY FATHER” [John 14:12].
THE MARTYRDOM OF THE APOSTLE PETER
Saint Symeon Metaphrastes says that Saint Peter was not taken alone, but with a multitude of the faithful, among whom were Clement, Herodion, and Olympos. The tyrant condemned them to decapitation but ordered Saint Peter TO BE CRUCIFIED. Laying hold of the condemned, the soldiers brought them to the place of execution. Clement, as a kinsman of the emperor, took pity on and set free. But Herodion and Olympos, who had come to Rome with the Apostle Peter, they beheaded together with a multitude of the faithful. THE APOSTLE REQUESTED THAT HE BE CRUCIFIED HEAD DOWNWARD, SAYING: “I AM NOT WORTHY TO BE CRUCIFIED AS MY CHRIST, UPRIGHT; FOR THIS HE WAS CRUCIFIED, SO AS TO LOOK TO THE EARTH, WHERE HE WOULD DESCEND INTO HADES TO DELIVER THE SOULS THEREIN. CRUCIFY ME HEAD DOWN, THAT I MAY LOOK TO THE HEAVENS, WHITHER I SHALL GO.” This the Great Apostle of the Lord, the holy Peter, reposed, glorifying God in his death by the cross. He endured great tortures from the nails in his hands and feet until he surrendered his blameless soul into the hands of God, on the 29th day of June, in the year of our Lord 67 A.D. His disciple, the holy Clement, having begged the authorities for the precious body of the Apostle, took it down from the cross and washed it. After Clement called together the remaining faithful and clergy, he interred the body with honor. They, likewise, gave a reverent burial to the bodies of Herodion, Olympos, and the other martyrs who suffered with the Apostle Peter, glorifying Christ God Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit, is glorified forever. Amen.
Again, it is Church Tradition that informs us THAT THE HOLY APOSTLE PETER DEEMED HIMSELF UNWORTHY TO BE CRUCIFIED AS THE Master Christ. He requested of his executioners that they crucify him UPSIDE DOWN…The church which now stands on the spot where Saint Peter was crucified is small, round, and has two levels. On the lower level, one can see the place where the overturned cross of the Apostle was erected. Above this place, a lamp burns perpetually. In the floor of the upper level of this church, a round opening has been made marking the height of the cross of Saint Peter. The foothill of the Janiculum Hill on which this church stands is called Golden Hill (Monte d’Oro, or, abbreviated, Montorio), by virtue of the golden color of the sand of which its soil consists. [Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)
(Next: Saint Paul)
“Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Divine and Glorious Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George