June 29, 2016 (Sts Peter and Paul)
Dear friends in Christ, today we celebrate two great Apostles of Christ and great leaders in the establishment of the Christian faith after the death and resurrection of Jesus. When we look at the way they were portrayed in the scriptures, they differ vastly in their background and temperament. Today’s celebration however focuses on their common qualities by which they led the church at its infancy successfully. The common good was the common goal of the two.
Today’s first reading (Acts 12:1-11) is a narration of the miraculous rescue of Peter who was arrested after the beheading of another of the Apostles, James the brother of John and one of the sons of Zebedee. Luke describes the imprisonment in a language that makes a jailbreak impossible. But even under such a very tight security arrangement, the Lord intervened to set him free. Peter seems passive about it all, no sign of worry, he was fast asleep to the extent that the Angel needed to tap him to wake up. When the Angel had let him out of the self opening gate back to freedom, the angel left him and it was only then Peter came to himself and realised it was not a dream. It was then he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his Angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”
The second reading (Timothy 4:6-8.17-18) is a testament on the life of Paul. In writing to Timothy he described how faithful he had been and how his death might serve as an incentive to all. “The time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness…” The steadfastness of Paul should inspire in every Christian perseverance in the course of the gospel.
Today’s gospel(Matthew 16:13-19) reveals to us how Jesus rewarded Peter with more responsibility after he had given the right answer to his question on who they perceive him to be. Peter had responded, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it…” The symbol of that office was a the keys of the kingdom of heaven that Jesus handed to Peter to bind and loose here on earth and in heaven, an authority which has been passed down to this day in the office of the Pope.
As we celebrate the commitment of these great Apostles to Christ and of the gospel, we must examine ourselves to see if we have made enough commitment to our faith. Have you fought a good fight, run the race like Paul and so expect the crown of glory from God? We can examine the sincerity of our love – shown with deeds – towards the one who takes Christ’s place on earth, the Pope. Do we pray for him every day? Do we make his teachings known? Do we second his intentions? Do we promptly spring to his defence when he is attacked or scorned? What joy we give to God when He sees that we love, with deeds, his Vicar here on earth! It’s never too late to start now, a delay however is dangerous.
Let us pray: Deliver us o Lord from our bondage and every evil as you delivered Peter from prison. Amen. May the Almighty God bless you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.