Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles Mass during the Day Lectionary: 591

I love solemnities.  It is a day to sit back and rejoice for the good that God has done through His mighty deeds.  Today’s solemnity is no exception, but does remind us that God’s call may come with a price and it is my belief that we are seeing some of that reality take shape in our world today.  Let’s take a second to contemplate our readings for the day…

Reading 1 ACTS 12:1-11

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 him 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.”

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

R.    (5) The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R.    The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R.    The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R.    The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R.    The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.

Reading 2 2 TM 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.

Alleluia MT 16:18

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 16:13-19

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.”

In our first two readings this morning we read about an imprisoned Apostle, the first one was Peter and the second was Paul.  What was their crime?  They were spreading the word of God, the message of the Gospel, to ALL.  Those in authority thought that by imprisoning these faithful Apostles they would stop the message from being proclaimed.  Little did they understand the faith of Sts. Peter and Paul and even less did they understand the power that God possesses.  The question for all of us to think about today is do we have the same faith, the same trust in God’s will that Sts. Peter and Paul had?  Each day that passes, it is becoming more concerting that our faith, especially in the Catholic church and all that it professes, is being challenged.  Am I – are you – prepared to face that challenge?

Currently in St. Louis we are facing a challenge from members of both the Jewish and Muslim faiths.  They are wanting the statue of St. Louis removed from Forest Park.  People have written graffiti on it; there has been many of loud argument for and against it in the Park and yesterday a mob chased after a young man with some violent intentions.  Again, am I ready to face this challenge?  I know my nephew Stephen was as he went to the statue to say some prayers with the people standing up for the statue and ended up “debating” with the angry protesters about the history of St. Louis IX, King of France.  (If you have twitter, just do a quick search of Stephen Schumacher and you’ll see his defense of St. Louis on Saturday at Forest Park.)

Both of my parish priests spoke of this challenge in their homilies yesterday.  They were both very passionate and spoke of the need to face those willing to harm the Church.  I thought Fr. Sieferts message was rather inspirational because he encouraged us to face this challenge armed with the same weapon that Jesus faced everyone of His persecutors with – Love.  The only thing Christ did was show Love and I believe that was Father’s message to all of us.  Don’t stand down from the challenge BUT don’t face your aggressors with hate.  Hate is the work of Satan.  Love has to be the only thing we arm ourselves with in this current battle; love will be the only thing that conquers the current hate we are experiencing.  Go back to the message being proclaimed to us in the Responsorial Psalm – it must be the driving message we proclaim to those wanting to persecute the Church today…

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.

Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.

Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.

The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.

Do something great for our Lord today – imitate the lives of His closest friends.  Live your life like the saint your are called to be.  Live your life for Christ and proclaim His message to all who need to hear it.  God is love for us and so we are called to be love for others.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness.  Compete well for the faith.

Eternal God, in Whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion – inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us so that in difficult moments, we may not despair nor become despondent but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will which is Love and Mercy itself.

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