In a world where celebrities are constantly being promoted or in some cases promoting themselves by compromising their life with the worlds’ materialistic and selfish creed, it seems to me that we need to look at better role models. St Peter and St Paul are the first that come to my mind.
St Peter was called by the Lord as we read in the Gospel according to St Matthew: “Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fisherman. And he said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.” This reading from the Gospel of Matthew always attracted my attention, especially the part where there is written: “Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.” What an unselfish desire to follow Christ, to preach like He preached. Such a total surrender to Christ’s words seems difficult especially when we are attached to earthly matters.
The way Christ, called St Paul, on the other hand, was very different, it is perhaps the most dramatic of conversions. “It happened that while he was travelling to Damascus and approaching the city, suddenly a light from heaven shone all round him. He fell to the ground, and then he heard a voice saying, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’5 ‘Who are you, Lord?’ he asked, and the answer came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”. Interesting as it may seems, St Augustine describes his own conversion in his Confessions (Book 8, Chapter 12) while reading St Paul’s Letter to the Romans: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provisions for the desires of the flash” (Romans 13:14). A perfect example of a convert leading another sinner to conversion, perhaps even to sainthood as mentioned above.
St. Thomas Aquinas, in his discussion of grace in the Summa Theologica, describes St. Paul’s own conversion as a sudden reception of grace (in contrast to the gradual transformation over time) as “Paul, suddenly when he was in the midst of sin, his heart was perfectly moved by God.”
Receiving a call means nothing, if it isn’t followed by an action in the face of such a call. In fact St Pope John Paul 2 said: “It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives.” In fact these two saints are nothing more than the fulfillment of such a quote, in fact they wouldn’t have gone down in Catholic history, hadn’t they accepted the Lord in their lives and let him stir in them such a desire. When we read the Gospel we find that, St Peter is also frequently mentioned in the Gospels as forming with James the Elder and John a special group within the Twelve Apostles, present at incidents at which the others were not present, such as at the Transfiguration of Jesus, at the raising of Jairus’ daughter and at the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter often confesses his faith in Jesus as the Messiah.
On the other hand St Paul wasn’t chosen by Christ to be one of his Twelve apostles, although his preaching, in words, in letters as well as in deed earned him the title of Apostle of Nations. In the end both saints were killed by Emperor Nero during the Christian persecution in Rome. They dead as they had lived, saintly men in service devoted to the Lord.