Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles

First Reading: Acts 12:1-11

Psalm: Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9

Second Reading: 2 Tm 4:6-8, 17-18

Gospel: Mt 16:13-19

Today is the feast of the two great apostles, Peter and Paul, who were different from each other in many ways. The most notable difference was their relationship with Christ. Peter knew Jesus in the flesh and 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 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; the ordinary people simply could not understand him and had little real interest in learning what he was trying to tell
them. At this dark moment, Peter confesses that Jesus is the savior of Israel. Jesus, delighted because Peter had recognized him as the Messiah and because he could now get on with his instructions to his apostles, heaps praise on Peter.

Perhaps some of us envy Peter in his association with Christ, the warm intense friendship he had with the man Jesus. Perhaps if we, too, could have known Jesus in the flesh, if we could have wandered the roads of Palestine with him, witnessing his miracles, listening his teaching, how easy it would be to live fully the life of Christian
discipleship!

Then we look at Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles who established the Church in Asia and Europe, and the author of almost half of the New Testament. Paul only knew Jesus in the spirit, through prayer. Yet Paul knew Jesus as intimately, as deeply, as intensely as did Peter, even though only through prayer. As we can also strive to do.

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