Tuesday, June 28, 2005
SOLEMNITY, STS. PETER & PAUL, APOSTLES
JUNE 29, 2005
SOLEMNITY, STS. PETER & PAUL, APOSTLES
In those days, King Herod laid hands upon some members of the Church
to harm them. He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword,
and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to
arrest Peter also. -It was the feast of Unleavened Bread.- He had
taken into custody and put in prison under the guard of four squads
of four soldiers each. He intended to bring him before the people
after Passover. Peter thus was being kept in prison, but prayer by
the Church was fervently being made to God on his behalf. On the
very night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter, secured by
double chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while outside the
door guards kept watch on the prison. Suddenly the angel of the Lord
stood by him and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the
side and awakened him, saying, "Get up quickly." The chains fell from
his wrists. The angel said to him, "Put on your belt and your
sandals." He did so. Then he said to him, "Put on your cloak and
follow me." So he followed him out, not realizing that what was
happening through the angel was real; he thought he was seeing a
vision. They passed the first guard, then the second, and came to the
iron gate leading out to the city, which opened for them by itself.
They emerged and made their way down an alley, and suddenly the angel
left him. Then Peter recovered his senses and said, "Now I know for
certain that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of
Herod and from all that the Jewish people had been expecting."
2 TIMOTHY 4:6-8, 17-18
I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of
my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the
race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness
awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that
day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his
appearance. The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that
through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles
might hear it. And I was rescued from the lion's mouth. The Lord will
rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his
heavenly Kingdom. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.
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."
Today is the feast of the two great apostles, Peter and Paul. These
two men were different from each other in many ways. Perhaps the
most noticeable difference was their relationship with Christ. Peter
knew Jesus in the flesh. He lived through times of great joy with
Jesus, and he suffered through times of dreadful pain with him, on
occasion even being the cause of Jesus' pain, for instance when he
denied his Master three times.
Today's gospel tells of a joyous moment, and it was Peter who created
this moment of joy for Jesus. At the time, everything seemed to be
going against Jesus. The Pharisees and the priests were vehement in
their opposition to him; the ordinary people simply could not
understand him and they had little real interest in learning what he
was trying to tell them. At this dark moment Peter confesses that
Jesus is the Messiah, the savior of Israel, and Jesus, delighted
because Peter had recognized him as the Messiah and because he could
now therefore get on with his instructions to his apostles, Jesus
heaps praise on Peter.
All of us, I suppose, envy Peter his association with Christ in the
flesh, the warm, intense friendship he had with the man Jesus. If
only, we feel, if only I could have known Jesus in the flesh, if only
I could have wandered the roads of Palestine with him, witnessing his
miracles, drinking in his teaching, how easy it would be to live
fully the life of Christian discipleship!
Well then, look at Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, who established
the Church in Asia and Europe, the author of almost half of the New
Testament. Paul never knew Jesus in the flesh. He knew him only in
the spirit, through prayer. Yet Paul knew Jesus as intimately, as
deeply, as intensely as did Peter, even though only through prayer.
As you and I can do also.
"Lord Jesus, I profess and believe that you are the Christ, the Son
of the living God. You are my Lord and my Savior. Make my faith
strong like Peter's and give me boldness to speak of you to others
that they may come to know you personally as Lord and Savior and grow
in the knowledge of your love".
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