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‘Peter and Paul were free because they were set free,’ Pope preaches on feast day

June 29, 2021

On June 29, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. During the Mass, he blessed the pallia for recently appointed metropolitan archbishops around the world.

“Peter, the fisherman from Galilee, was set free above all from his sense of inadequacy and his bitter experience of failure, thanks to the unconditional love of Jesus,” Pope Francis preached in his homily. Paul “was set free from the most oppressive form of slavery, which is slavery to self.”

The Pontiff said that St. Paul

was also set free from the religious fervor that had made him a zealous defender of his ancestral traditions (cf. Gal 1:14) and a cruel persecutor of Christians. Set free. Formal religious observance and the intransigent defense of tradition, rather than making him open to the love of God and of his brothers and sisters, had hardened him: he was a fundamentalist. God set him free from this, yet he did not spare him the frailties and hardships that rendered his mission of evangelization more fruitful.

“Dear brothers and sisters, the Church looks to these two giants of faith and sees two Apostles who set free the power of the Gospel in our world, only because first they themselves had been set free by their encounter with Christ,” the Pope continued. “We too have been touched by the Lord; we too have been set free. Yet we need to be set free time and time again, for only a free Church is a credible Church. . . . A Church that is weak, yet finds strength in the presence of God.”

Pope Francis concluded with a prayer “that, set free by Christ, we may be apostles of freedom throughout the world”:

Let us ask, today in this celebration but afterwards as well: to what extent do our cities, our societies and our world need freedom? How many chains must be shattered and how many doors long shut must be opened! We can help bring this freedom, but only if we first let ourselves be set free by the newness of Jesus, and walk in the freedom of the Holy Spirit.

 


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