"I have finished the race."

Where the first reading shows Peter just getting started post-Pentecost, the second reading (from Second Timothy) shows Paul at the end of his ministry.  After three missionary journeys covering most of the Mediterranean, the Apostle to the Gentiles is looking back on everything that has happened since he met Jesus on the Road to Damascus. 

Paul sums his work up in a few understated phrases (“I have competed well, I have finished the race”) that barely hint at all that has gone before.  Modest at the end, the details of the “race” that Paul has run are a series of preaching tours that find Paul on the receiving end of a seemingly endless string of betrayals, trials, imprisonments, whippings, beatings, stonings, robberies, and shipwrecks. 

Transient

Knowing all that he has been through, the fact that Paul is at peace with himself and with God after all of this is really something.  That this peace comes through so clearly in his writing is even more impressive when you know that Paul wrote this while under house arrest in Rome, waiting to be executed.  More on Peter and Paul tomorrow.