[…] He had zeal for God, and was jealous over us with divine jealousy (2 Cor. 11:2).
The only one to equal him in this was Peter, but hear how humble he is when he says of himself, “I am the least of the Apostles, that am not meet to be called an Apostle” (1 Cor. 15:9).
Given that Paul made the same confession of faith as Peter, and had the same zeal, humility and love, surely they received the same rewards.
[…] That is why the Lord told Peter, “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18), whereas He said to Ananias of Paul, “He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles and kings” (Acts 9:15).
Which name? Clearly the name we have been given, the name of Christ’s Church, which rests on the foundation stone of Peter.
Notice that Peter and Paul are equal in prominence and glory, and both hold up the Church. Consequently the Church now bestows one and the same honour on both, and celebrates them together with equal esteem.
As we consider the outcome of their lives, let us imitate how they lived, or at least how they were restored through humility and repentance, even if we cannot attain to their other great and exalted achievements, which are appropriate to great men and fitting for great men to emulate.
[…] Amendment through repentance, however, is more appropriate for us than for the great, since we all sin many times every day, and unless we lay hold of salvation through continuous repentance, we have no hope of it from any other source.
Repentance is preceded by awareness of our sins, which is a strong incentive to mercy. “Have mercy upon me”, said the Psalmist and Prophet to God, “for I acknowledge my transgressions” (Ps. 5 1:1, 3).
Through his recognition of sin he attracted God’s compassion, and through his confession and self-condemnation he obtained complete forgiveness.
“I said”, the Psalmist tells us, “I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my heart” (cf. Ps. 32:5), because acknowledgment of our sins is followed by condemnation of ourselves, which in turn is followed by that sorrow for our sins which Paul calls “godly sorrow” (2 Cor. 7:10).
After godly sorrow confession and prayer to God with a contrite heart come naturally (Ps. 51:17), as does the promise to keep away from evil from now on. This is repentance.
Gregory Palamas (1296-1359): Homily on the Feast of St Peter and St Paul, 10-12 @ Mystagogy.