Peter and Paul

After the referendum, we in this country are experiencing a crisis in leadership. I am writing this early on Thursday morning when both the Labour party and Conservative party are looking for new leaders.

Yesterday , 29th June, we celebrated the feast of St Peter and St Paul. Two men who were the first leaders and apostles in the Church. What was good about their leadership? Can we learn anything from them that will help us today?

They were men of different backgrounds. Peter was a fisherman, from Bethsaida of Galilee, and Paul, a Roman patrician from Tarsus. Paul was a man of strong passions . He had a keen mind. John L. Mckenzie wrote about his keen mind “which composed the letters and which is always disciplined; Paul’s fiery personality does not obscure his thoughts. His qualities of leadership and organisation are evident in the account of his missionary journeys.” Peter had a very close relationship with Jesus as we can see throughout the gospel narrative. Peter loved Jesus and wept when he denied Him. He was an impetuous man who was chosen by Jesus to be the rock on which the Church was built. By the Sea of Galilee, after the Resurrection, Jesus called Peter to feed his lambs and sheep. The fisherman was called to be a shepherd. A shepherd is a symbol of care and nurture. His life is one of knowing his sheep and leading them to pasture. Paul was also a shepherd who had a loving and fatherly relationship with the many Christian communities he help found, writing to them, encouraging them, guiding them and not afraid to admonish them. What is common to both men is that their lives were centred in the care of others. In order to be good shepherds it was imperative that they developed a deep and close relationship with Christ. They also had to come to know and love the men and women whom they loved. This means a life of service. To be a servant leader is to put Christ and others first. “I live not I but Christ lives in me.” wrote St Paul. Ultimately their life of service as leaders meant that they were prepared to let go of their lives for the sake of others. Peter was executed in the reign of Nero between 64 and 67 on the Vatican Hill, in Rome. Paul was beheaded between 67 and 68. The place of his martyrdom is the site of the basilica of St Paul ‘outside the walls”