Daily Archives: June 29, 2008

Sunday, 29 June – The Sword in the Stone

29 June – Soleminty of Peter and Paul, Apostles

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Acts 12:1-11

It was about this time that King Herod started persecuting certain members of the Church. He beheaded James the brother of John, and when he saw that this pleased the Jews he decided to arrest Peter as well. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread, and he put Peter in prison, assigning four squads of four soldiers each to guard him in turns. Herod meant to try Peter in public after the end of Passover week. All the time Peter was under guard the Church prayed to God for him unremittingly.

On the night before Herod was to try him, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, fastened with double chains, while guards kept watch at the main entrance to the prison. Then suddenly the angel of the Lord stood there, and the cell was filled with light. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him. ‘Get up!’ he said ‘Hurry!’ – and the chains fell from his hands. The angel then said, ‘Put on your belt and sandals.’ After he had done this, the angel next said, ‘Wrap your cloak round you and follow me.’

Peter followed him, but had no idea that what the angel did was all happening in reality; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed through two guard posts one after the other, and reached the iron gate leading to the city. This opened of its own accord; they went through it and had walked the whole length of one street when suddenly the angel left him. It was only then that Peter came to himself. ‘Now I know it is all true’ he said. The Lord really did send his angel and has saved me from Herod and from all that the Jewish people were so certain would happen to me.’

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2 Timothy 4:6-8. 17-18

As for me, my life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his Appearing.

The Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me, and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

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Matthew 16:13-19

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But you,’ he said ‘who do you say I am?’ Then Simon Peter spoke up, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’

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You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church.

Have you heard of the Sword in the Stone? According to Arthurian legend, it is said that only the true king of England would be able to pull out the sword Excalibur from a rock, and the man who pulled it out was King Arthur. In this story, what was more important as proof of Arthur’s royal lineage? Was it the sword? No, because if not for the rock in which the sword was found, it would just be any other sword. Was it the rock then? No, because if not for the sword that was in it, it would just be any other rock. What is significant then is the combination of both the sword and the rock.

Among Catholics today, it is not uncommon to find squabbling especially between factions that consider themselves “conservative” or “liberal”. Conservative Catholics frequently identify themselves with Peter, and they are those who emphasize loyalty to the Pope or loyalty to Rome. Liberal Catholics however identity themselves with Paul, and they are those who focus on reaching out to others in whatever means possible.

It is interesting to note that in Catholic tradition, St. Paul is commonly depicted as a man carrying a sword and a book, while St. Peter is depicted as holding a pair of keys. The Gospel reading of today describes St. Peter as the rock on which Christ built His Church, and in the first reading, we see how God preserved Peter from execution so that he could go on to fulfil his mission as the first spiritual leader of the Church. It is also interesting to note that according to a very old tradition that goes back to apostolic times, recounts that not very far from where Peter and Paul were martyred for their faith, both men were said to have encountered each other, embraced each other, and to have blessed each other reciprocally.

The fact that the universal Church today celebrates both apostles on the same day is testament to the fact that both ways of being Christian are to co-exist in the Church, and indeed in each Christian that lives. For without the rock, the sword would just be any other sword, and without the sword, the rock would just be any other sword. But it is the combination of the sword in the rock that both become significant. So my friends, let us not differentiate conservative from liberal Catholicism, but rejoice and embrace and bless one another as Peter and Paul did, recognizing that we each have a part to play in helping the true king, the King of kings, our Lord Jesus, take His place as king of our hearts.

(Today’s reflection by Daniel Tay)
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Prayer: We pray for all Catholics that we may truly be a united people, embracing all as members of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to the Lord for Petrine and Pauline spiritualities.

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Upcoming readings:

30 Jun, Mon – Amos 2:6-10. 13-16, Matthew 8:18-22
01 Jul, Tue – Amos 3:1-8, Matthew 8:23-27
02 Jul, Wed – Amos 5:14-15, Matthew 8:28-34
03 Jul, Thu – Ephesians 2:19-22, John 20:24-29 – Feast of St Thomas
04 Jul, Fri – Amos 87:4-6, Matthew 9:9-13
05 Jul, Sat – Amos 9:11-15, Matthew 9:14-17
06 Jul, Sun – Zec 9:9-0, Romans 8:9. 11-13, Matthew 11:25-30 – Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
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