29 Jun – Solemnity of Ss Peter and Paul, Apostles (Mass of the Day)
Peter (c.1–64) was a professional fisherman. He was the brother of St. Andrew the Apostle, the man who led him to Christ. Given the name Simon, he was renamed “Peter” (rock) by Jesus to indicate that Peter would be the rock-like foundation on which the Church would be built. He later became a bishop and was the first pope. He was also a miracle worker.
Paul (c.3–c.65) was a Jewish Talmudic student and a Pharisee. He was a tent-maker by trade. Saul the Jew hated and persecuted the Christians as heretical, even assisting at the stoning of St. Stephen the Martyr. On his way to Damascus, Syria, to arrest another group of faithful, he was knocked to the ground, struck blind by a heavenly light, and given the message that in persecuting him, causing his conversion to Christianity.
He was baptized, changed his name to Paul to reflect his new persona, and began travelling, preaching, and teaching. His letters to the churches he help found form a large percentage of the New Testament. He knew and worked with many of the earliest saints and Fathers of the Church. He died a martyr for the faith.
– Patron Saint Index
Acts of the Apostles 12:1-11
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.’
2 Timothy 4:6-8.17-18
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.
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.’
Rescue me from all evil attempts
I was told that I have plenty of positiveness in my attitude. Sometimes I wonder about it myself. Is my positive outlook motivated by my faith in the Lord, because He is watching over me and I believe He will rescue me from anything that will harm me; or am I just lackadaisical that nothing is of such great importance to be negative about? I do have many occasions where I could get into trouble and getting myself into really difficult situations but always getting out of it in with a rather peaceful solution. I just could not think of anything which was unmanageable. I surely must count my blessings and all is possible because of our Lord God who has His angels watch over me.
In today’s first reading, I have the impression of God freezing time, and the angel descended in front of Peter and led him out of prison. It seemed like an X-Men movie where the hero had come to save the scientist. Peter did not know at once that the rescue by the angel was in reality, but he obediently follows the angel because it was God sent. Peter was an outstanding apostle. He may have betrayed acknowledging Jesus when He was taken away, but Jesus sees his failures and his deep faith and knowledge in the Father. Peter’s faith grew a hundredfold since the moment he dropped his fishing net to follow Christ. He is a prominent Saint which headed the early Church, and the apostle succession has been passed to Pope Benedict XVI. The strong faith and leadership given upon by the Holy Spirit remained powerful throughout the years. As God watches over us on this secular world, He never lets us down and rescues us from all evil attempts.
If we look hard into our experiences with God, I am sure we could find many occasions when we have been rescued. As we look at the generosity of God and His powers, how can we reciprocate that love to our Father? SS Peter and Paul felt it so deeply in their hearts that they preach the Good News to the people. Do we have Peter’s faith? Do we see like the way Paul did, to know what are truths and evil temptations after a conversion? God is there for us, always reaching out that long arm, to hold on to us no matter how far we have drifted, calling us back; no matter how far we have fallen, and pulling us back up.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Austin Leong)
Prayer: Let us pray for all who have dropped out of the Church, may they let down their pride and be rescued by God, and build the faith with the community.
Thanksgiving: I will not let go of your long arm Lord, because I am in need of your help, and thank you for the times which You have got me out of troubles.
Thu, 30 Jun – Genesis 22:1-19; Matthew 9:1-8; Memorial for the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church
Fri, 01 Jul – Deuteronomy 7:6-11; 1 John 4:7-16; Mathew 11:25-30; Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus
Sat, 02 Jul – Isaiah 61:9-11; Luke 2:41-51; Memorial for the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Sun, 03 Jul – Zechariah 9:9-10; Romans 8:9.11-13; Matthew 11:25-30; Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time