Reading I: Acts 12:1-11
Responsorial Psalm: 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
Reading II: 2 Tm 4:6-8, 17-18
Gospel: Mt 16:13-19
Liturgical colour: Red.
Let us first look at today’s Gospel Reading of MT 16:13=19:
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter,and upon this rock I will build my Church,and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of two of the great pillars of the church, those being the Apostles, Sts Peter and Paul. They both came from entirely different backgrounds. Peter worked as a fisherman and was from rural Galilee. Paul was a learned Pharisee from the university city of Tarsus. Peter’s first language was Aramaic; Paul’s first language was Greek. Peter knew Jesus from the time of Jesus’ baptism and was with Jesus until the time of Jesus’ passion and death; Paul only ever met the risen Lord, in the vicinity of Damascus. For all their differences, they had at least one thing in common. Both of these men found themselves at odds with the Lord. Peter denied Jesus publicly three times. Paul violently persecuted the followers of Jesus, and thereby persecuted Jesus himself. Yet, their resistance to the Lord did not prevent the Lord from working powerfully through them. Paul was chosen to be the great apostle to the pagans. We know from the letter to the Galatians that Peter and Paul had a serious disagreement at one point about the direction the church should be taking. They were very different people and the Lord worked through each of them in very different ways. They were certainly united in death. Very early tradition recalls that both were executed in Rome by the emperor Nero who blamed the Christians for the fire of Rome. Today’s feast reminds us that the way the Lord works through us is unique to each and every single one of us. The feast also reassures us that our many resistances to the Lord need not be a hindrance to the Lord working through us. Peter who denied the Lord and Paul who persecuted the Lord went on to become great servants of the Lord. Our failings do not define who we are. Paul would go on to say, ‘the Lord’s grace toward me has not been in vain’. Likewise, the Lord’s grace towards us in our weakness and frailty need never be in vain if we continue to open ourselves to the workings of that grace, just as Peter and Paul did.
Let us pray:
O God, who on the Solemnity
of the Apostles Peter and Paul,
give us the noble and holy joy of this day,
grant, we pray, that your Church
may in all things follow the teaching
of those through whom she received
the beginnings of the true religion.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.