Feast Day on June 29
Apostles Peter and Paul
From the Sermons of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco
The feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul indicates the lot of the Holy Apostles here on earth and reveals the glory that followed it.
The earthly lot of the Apostles was to go around the earth preaching of the Heavenly Kingdom, in this emulating Christ by their poverty, endurance of dishonor and sufferings, by their love for the children of the Heavenly Father, their inward torments of childbirth over those who heeded their preaching and their grief over those who paid no heed to their words and finally, by offering themselves as a sacrifice.
However, the culmination of their earthly life is the beginning of their heavenly glory. Their end is for them a dissolving of earthly ties and an ascent to Christ, Whom they loved, in order to remain eternally with Him (Phil. 1:23).
The day of their earthly end is the day of their heavenly birth, end the celebration of it is a solemnity of the coming of the future age for those who have followed Christ in this age. The receiving of the crowns of righteousness prepared not only for them but also for all who love His appearing (II Tim. 4:8). Coming after the feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit and being in part bound up with it, the feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul culminates the yearly cycle of feasts dedicated to the earthly life of Christ and reveals the essence of His promises.
Just as the Nativity of John the Baptist is the foreword to the Gospel and the beginning of the events described in it, so also the death of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul is their culmination and the afterward of the Gospel.
The Nativity of St. John the Baptist is the beginning of the preaching of the Gospel of the New Testament on earth; his Beheading is the preaching of it in hell, and the day of the Holy Apostles is the realization of it in heaven.
“The firm and God-proclaiming preachers, the pinnacle of the Apostles, Thou hast received into the enjoyment of Thy good things and into repose; for Thou didst receive their pains and death as above all offerings, O Thou Who alone knowest what is in the heart” (Kontakion).
“The feast of the all-honorable Apostles hath come, interceding for the salvation of all of us. Now mystically clapping our hands, let us say: come into our midst invisibly, vouchsafing immaterial gifts for those who praise your feast in hymns” (Glory at Lauds).
At the Aposticha, Idiomela Stichera. Tone 1. By St. Andrew of Crete.
Verse: The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims the work of his hands.
Let us praise Peter and Paul, the great beacons of the Church; for they shone more brightly than the sun in the firmament of the faith, and with the rays of the proclamation they brought the nations from ignorance to the knowledge of God. The one was nailed to a cross and so found the path to heaven, where he was handed the keys of the kingdom by Christ; while the other was beheaded by the sword and so departed to the Saviour and is fittingly called blessed. Both denounced Israel for stretching out his hands unjustly against the Lord himself. And so at their prayers, Christ our God, cast down those who are against us, and strengthen the orthodox faith, as you love mankind.
Apolytikion. Tone 4.
First-throned of the Apostles and teachers of the inhabited world, intercede with the Master of all things to give peace to the world and to our souls his great mercy.