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Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles June 29, 2014.

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1 Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles June 29, 2014

2 1 st reading: Acts 12:1-11 Herod and Peter 1 In those days, King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, 3 and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (It was (the) feast of Unleavened Bread.) 4 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. 5 Peter thus was being kept in prison, but prayer by the church was fervently being made to God on his behalf. 6 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. Angel and Peter 7 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. 8 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." 9 So he followed him out, not realizing that what was happening through the angel was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 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. Peter and God 11 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." A simple outline! The focus is on Peter

3 1 st reading: Acts 12:1-11 Herod and Peter 1 In those days, King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, 3 and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (It was (the) feast of Unleavened Bread.) 4 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. 5 Peter thus was being kept in prison, but prayer by the church was fervently being made to God on his behalf. 6 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. Commentary V.1 King Herod is bent on killing / harming some members of the church. (King Herod here is not King Herod the Great (who sought the life of Jesus when he was a little boy), nor Herod Antipas (who killed Jesus), but Herod Agrippa. In v.2, Herod has killed James. In v.3, Herod is also eyeing on arresting Peter. V.3 gives the reason why: It is pleasing to the Jews. In parenthesis, the date is indicated. It is the same day as when Jesus was arrested. V.4 indicates his swift action: He takes him into custody. He puts him into prison. He intends to display him after the Passover. V.5 brings out the contrast between what Herod does and what the church does. The church fervently prays for Peter. V.6 describes how Peter has been secured for the trial. (heavily guarded)

4 Angel and Peter 7 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. 8 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." 9 So he followed him out, not realizing that what was happening through the angel was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 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. Peter and God 11 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." In v.7 God also does something for Peter. God intervenes through an angel. The actions of the angel: Stood by him Light shone He tapped Peter He awakened Peter. He asked him, “Get up.” In v.8, the angel asks him to escape. In v.9, Peter obeys the angel. Peter thinks he is seeing a vision (something unreal!). V.10 describes how Peter escapes without being detected by the guards. In v.11, Peter makes a theological conclusion based on his experience: God sent his angel to rescue him from Herod and foiled the expectations of the Jews on him.

5 Reflections on the 1 st reading To be an apostle (to be sent with a commission), one must be prepared to be like his/her master. To be an apostle (to be sent with a commission), one must be prepared to be like his/her master. Peter undergoes the same trial as Jesus. Peter undergoes the same trial as Jesus. Herod Agrippa seeks to make the Jewish people happy, at the expense of Peter and the other apostles. Herod Agrippa seeks to make the Jewish people happy, at the expense of Peter and the other apostles. Herod, like his father and brother, is a murderer of the apostles, trying hard to please the Jews. Herod, like his father and brother, is a murderer of the apostles, trying hard to please the Jews. Herod arrests Peter and puts him into prison for a trial. Herod arrests Peter and puts him into prison for a trial. But God has his own way to save Peter. But God has his own way to save Peter. He sends an angel to help him escape from the scheme of Herod. He sends an angel to help him escape from the scheme of Herod. The apostle (missionary) must learn also how to trust in the saving power of the Lord. The apostle (missionary) must learn also how to trust in the saving power of the Lord. Peter allowed himself to be led by the angel. Peter allowed himself to be led by the angel.

6 Resp. Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9 R. (5) The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him. 2 I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth. 3 Let my soul glory in the LORD; the lowly will hear me and be glad. 4 Glorify the LORD with me, let us together extol his name. 5 I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 6 Look to him that you may be radiant with joy, and your faces may not blush with shame. 7 When the poor one called out, the LORD heard, and from all his distress he saved him. 8 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 9 Taste and see how good the LORD is; blessed the man who takes refuge in him.

7 Resp. Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9 R. (5) The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him. 2 I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth. 3 Let my soul glory in the LORD; the lowly will hear me and be glad. 4 Glorify the LORD with me, let us together extol his name. 5 I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 6 Look to him that you may be radiant with joy, and your faces may not blush with shame. 7 When the poor one called out, the LORD heard, and from all his distress he saved him. 8 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 9 Taste and see how good the LORD is; blessed the man who takes refuge in him. Commentary The psalm is a thanksgiving hymn. It represents the feeling of Peter. In vv.2-3, the psalmist promises to ever bless, praise and glory in the Lord. In v.3, the poor will rejoice with him. In v.4, the psalmist invites his audience to praise God. V.5 gives the reason why. V.6 exhorts others to seek God, to be happy and assured of honor. V.7 affirms God’s saving help to the poor who seek him. V.8 tells how God makes the life of the poor secure. In v.9, the psalmist invites his audience to do the same and experience the same benefit.

8 Reflections on the Psalm We return to God when we experience salvation from him. We should invite others to praise God for helping us. We must be convinced that God has a certain bias for the poor who call on him. We may have committed big errors and people affected are seeking our lives, but it is a good idea to take refuge in the Lord when we become so vulnerable and defenseless.

9 2 nd reading: 2 Timothy 4:6-8, I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. 8 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. 17 But 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. 18 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. The focus is on Paul.

10 2 nd reading: 2 Timothy 4:6-8, I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. 8 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. 17 But 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. 18 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. Commentary Paul’s Paul’s authorship here is disputed. Paul The reading is all about St. Paul as an apostle. He feels his time is up. He has done what he is supposed to do and is hopeful God will reward him. Paul In v.6, Paul feels that he is being “sacrificed” and will soon die. V.7 indicates he has finished his job. Has competed well (with quality) Has finished the race (did not give up) Has kept the faith. (consistent) Paul Like Jesus, Paul has accomplished everything expected of him as an apostle and missionary. He did not leave any unfinished agenda. He did not leave anything unaddressed / unturned. He worked with due diligence. Paul In v.8, Paul expresses his hope for his reward and those who similarly worked hard for Jesus.

11 6 I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. 8 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. 17 But 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. 18 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. Paul In v.17, Paul in times of threats and danger, acknowledges God’s protection and support: God stood by me. He gave me strength. Paul Paul was not a lonely missionary. Paul Paul also acknowledges that God has made him an instrument to complete the work of proclamation, that all the Gentiles might hear it. Paul On the last line, Paul mentions an animal (lion). It can be figurative. It can refer to his enemies, who want to put him to death. Paul In v.18, Paul expresses his belief that the Lord will save him from threats and bring him safely to heaven. The last line is doxology. Paul In the midst of threats, Paul still glorifies God.

12 Reflections on the 2 nd reading The real author is Paul’s disciple. The writer puts himself into the shoes of Paul. He is aware of what Paul has undergone as a missionary. To work for the church and for the kingdom is a dangerous job. The opponents are seriously out for the kill. The missionary should have a deep faith in God in order to face trials and death. We, like Paul, must complete our work to deserve God’s recognition. Only then, can we truly and confidently say, “Lord, I have run the race… I competed well… I look forward to seeing you in heaven.”

13 Gospel reading: Matthew 16: When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." 17 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. 18 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. 19 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." The focus is on Peter.

14 Gospel reading: Matthew 16:13-19 Question 13 When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" Wrong Answer 14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." Question 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Correct Answer 16 Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Responsibility of Peter 17 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. 18 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. 19 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."

15 Gospel reading: Matthew 16:13-19 Question 13 When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" Wrong Answer 14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." Question 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Correct Answer 16 Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Responsibility of Peter 17 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. 18 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. 19 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." Commentary Caesaria Philippi lies at the foot of Mt. Hermon, up north. It should not be confused with Caesaria Maritima (along the Mediterranean Coast) In v.13, Jesus asks his disciples if the people know his identity as the son of man. Why does Jesus ask this question? Correct knowledge of Jesus will lead to correct discipleship. In v.14, Jesus gets wrong answers. In v.15, Jesus asks the same question to his disciples. In v.16, Peter rightly answers, “You are the Messiah…”

16 Question 13 When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" Wrong Answer 14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." Question 15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Correct Answer 16 Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Responsibility of Peter 17 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. 18 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. 19 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 v.17, Jesus reveals what makes Peter correct in his answer. The heavenly father himself revealed it. Now in v.18, Jesus reveals his plan to build a church. What is this church? This is the turning point of the life of Peter. From now on, Peter will have a big role in the life of the church. In v.19, Jesus gives him the keys of the kingdom of heaven. The keys symbolize his authority. Peter has the authority to allow or reject people to enter the kingdom of God. Theologians say the church is not the kingdom of God. The church serves the kingdom of God.

17 Reflections on the gospel reading In the gospel reading, we pay special attention to Peter. In the gospel reading, we pay special attention to Peter. Peter is the spokesperson of the apostles. He speaks on behalf of them. Peter is the spokesperson of the apostles. He speaks on behalf of them. Jesus pays attention to him and gives him special assignment. Jesus pays attention to him and gives him special assignment. Peter will have authority over the church. Peter will have authority over the church. It is called the primacy of Peter. He is the first pope. It is called the primacy of Peter. He is the first pope. Protestants or other Christian denominations do not believe that the authority of Peter was transmitted to his successors. Protestants or other Christian denominations do not believe that the authority of Peter was transmitted to his successors. We Catholics believe otherwise. That is why, we believe in the authority of the popes, as successors of Peter. We Catholics believe otherwise. That is why, we believe in the authority of the popes, as successors of Peter.

18 Tying the 3 readings and the Psalm The first reading talks about Peter Peter being arrested and imprisoned and set to trial, but freed by an angel the night before. The psalm leads us to praise God for saving us from those who seek to harm us. The second reading talks about Paul Paul feeling the end of his life. The gospel reading talks about Peter Peter having authority over the church.

19 How to develop your sharing We reflect on the roles of Peter and Paul in the church. We call them “pillars” of the church, because of their leadership and missionary endeavors. Peter was sent to the Jews; Paul to the Gentiles. Peter, a fisherman, managed two boats and some crew. By nature, Peter had leadership. He also had the ability to take risks, like when he was asked by Jesus to lower down his nets at an inopportune time. He spoke for the other apostles. Among the apostles, he was the most outspoken.

20 Paul, on the other hand, was a well-trained interpreter of the law. He received a good education in his youth. He learned the Greek, Jewish and Roman cultures. He learned easily about Jesus through the apostles and made sound theological conclusions. A very intelligent interpreter of Jesus and the teachings of the apostles. He rose to the category of the apostles though he did not personally see Jesus. Based on his writings, he outdid them in terms of teaching, evangelizing and organizing Christian communities.

21 The first reading does not directly talk about Peter. It tells the story how Peter is arrested, heavily guarded and about to be tried. But the night before, God sends an angel to free him. Herod wants to eliminate Peter to please the Jews. The Jews were pleased when he eliminated James, the first bishop of the Jerusalem church (the mother church). The first reading narrates a short portion of the story of Peter. Peter is persecuted, but he does not complain.

22 The gospel reading mentions Peter as correctly answering the question of Jesus. His answer is completely different from what the people know about Jesus. The correct answer must have been based on his faithful following of Jesus since he was called. The three-year experience with Jesus in his mission must have taught him (and the other apostles) the correct appreciation of who Jesus is. His view is not a pious one, but a view that reveals depth and awareness of who Jesus really is and is ready to take a big responsibility: to take care of the Church and to decide who should enter the kingdom of heaven.

23 In the second reading, we hear of Paul talking to Timothy about his end. Paul has spent his life doing missionary work. He has undergone a lot of trials as he worked hard for the Lord. In some of his writings, especially 2 Corinthians, we get a feel of the passionate and human Paul. He is a hardworking apostle who was subjected to all kinds of threats and dangers. Here in the readings, Paul expresses his hope to receive God’s award, God’s promise to those who are faithful to him.

24 Peter and Paul have something in common: Both of them worked for Jesus Christ. Both of them understood who Jesus was. Both lived in danger. Both died as martyrs for their faith. Their feast should instill in us Christians the value of committing ourselves to Christ and to his church. Christian commitment is living a missionary life. It is living a dangerous life. Living the Christian faith is not a plaything, it is not an entertainment, it is not to be taken lightly like a toy. It is reliving the dangerous memory of Jesus.

25 The eucharist is the sacrament of discipleship par excellence. The eucharist is the food for the journey of the true missionary disciples. The eucharist is meaningless to the not so serious disciples, to the lukewarm, doing nothing for the Lord and for the church. The eucharist is meant for those who build the church and advance God’s kingdom.

26 Our Context of Sin and Grace Identity crisis, can’t say to himself/herself, “I am a follower of Christ.” Many missionary priests and nuns live in precarious situations Misconception that the lay have nothing to do with mission Active only in liturgy, no social work Lack of knowledge of Christ = lack of commitment to him. Misguided discipleship, more on externals So much glamorization of faith and devotion Church with committed priests, catechists and lay Spiritual leaders who have impact even on civil leaders Lay faithful who give witness in their offices and workplaces Missionaries who are courageous and risk-takers Takes the gospel as starting point in all activities


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