"Act as if everyday were the last of your life, and each action the last you perform." — St. Alphonsus Liguori
MEDITATION OF THE DAY "People often think of Christian morality as a kind of bargain in which God says, 'If you keep a lot of rules I'll reward you, and if you don't I'll do the other thing.' I do not think that is the best way of looking at it. I would much rather say that every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different from what it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow-creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at this moment is progressing to the one state or the other." — C. S. Lewis, p. 92
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St. Peter (Peter and Paul)
Peter: St. Mark ends the first half of his Gospel with a triumphant climax. He has recorded doubt, misunderstanding and the opposition of many to Jesus. Now Peter makes his great confession of faith: "You are the Messiah" (Mark 8:29b). It was one of the many glorious moments in Peter's life, beginning with the day he was called from his nets along the Sea of Galilee to become a fisher of men for Jesus.
The New Testament clearly shows Peter as the leader of the apostles, chosen by Jesus to have a special relationship with him. With James and John he was privileged to witness the Transfiguration, the raising of a dead child to life and the agony in Gethsemane. His mother-in-law was cured by Jesus. He was sent with John to prepare for the last Passover before Jesus' death. His name is first on every list of apostles.
And to Peter only did Jesus say, "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 nether world 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" (Matthew 16:17b-19).
But the Gospels prove their own veracity by the unflattering details they include about Peter. He clearly had no public relations person. It is a great comfort for ordinary mortals to know that Peter also has his human weakness, even in the presence of Jesus.
He generously gave up all things, yet he can ask in childish self-regard, "What are we going to get for all this?" (see Matthew 19:27). He receives the full force of Christ's anger when he objects to the idea of a suffering Messiah: "Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do" (Matthew 16:23b).
Peter is willing to accept Jesus' doctrine of forgiveness, but suggests a limit of seven times. He walks on the water in faith, but sinks in doubt. He refuses to let Jesus wash his feet, then wants his whole body cleansed. He swears at the Last Supper that he will never deny Jesus, and then swears to a servant maid that he has never known the man. He loyally resists the first attempt to arrest Jesus by cutting off Malchus's ear, but in the end he runs away with the others. In the depth of his sorrow, Jesus looks on him and forgives him, and he goes out and sheds bitter tears.
Paul: If Billy Graham suddenly began preaching that the United States should adopt Marxism and not rely on the Constitution, the angry reaction would help us understand Paul's life when he started preaching that Christ alone can save us. He had been the most Pharisaic of Pharisees, the most legalistic of Mosaic lawyers. Now he suddenly appears to other Jews as a heretical welcomer of Gentiles, a traitor and apostate.
Paul's central conviction was simple and absolute: Only God can save humanity. No human effort—even the most scrupulous observance of law—can create a human good which we can bring to God as reparation for sin and payment for grace. To be saved from itself, from sin, from the devil and from death, humanity must open itself completely to the saving power of Jesus.
Paul never lost his love for his Jewish family, though he carried on a lifelong debate with them about the uselessness of the Law without Christ. He reminded the Gentiles that they were grafted on the parent stock of the Jews, who were still God's chosen people, the children of the promise.
In light of his preaching and teaching skills, Paul's name has surfaced (among others) as a possible patron of the Internet.
We would probably go to confession to Peter sooner than to any of the other apostles. He is perhaps a more striking example of the simple fact of holiness. Jesus says to us as he said, in effect, to Peter: "It is not you who have chosen me, but I who have chosen you. Peter, it is not human wisdom that makes it possible for you to believe, but my Father's revelation. I, not you, build my Church." Paul's experience of the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus was the driving force that made him one of the most zealous, dynamic and courageous ambassadors of Christ the Church has ever had. But persecution, humiliation and weakness became his day-by-day carrying of the cross, material for further transformation. The dying Christ was in him; the living Christ was his life.
I slow myself down for a moment, and try to realise that God is present. To me. Here and now. He is in present in what I do, in the people that I meet, and the situations I find myself in daily. How can I make this reality real for myself?
Lord grant me the grace to have freedom of the spirit. Cleanse my heart and soul so I may live joyously in Your love.
Where do I sense hope, encouragement, and growth areas in my life? By looking back over the last few months, I may be able to see which activities and occasions have produced rich fruit. If I do notice such areas, I will determine to give those areas both time and space in the future.
The Word of God
Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul - Mass during 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 Ps 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."
Some thoughts on today's scripture
▪ St Peter and St Paul are often described as the 'columns of the faith': Peter was the rock upon which the Church was built, and Paul was the apostles of the Gentiles, especially chosen by Christ to carry the Good News to those who were not Jews. Today, as we celebrate their feast, I reflect on my faith, especially that it is a great gift from God, which I received when I was baptised, and in which I grew through the ministry of so many others: starting from the apostles, down to my parents, teachers, catechists, parish community, friends, and so many other witnesses. I thank God for this great gift, and ask for the ability to know how to transmit it to others, not as a museum piece but as a living reality.
▪ I also reflect in gratitude that I am not called to live this alone, but with others, in the community we call the Church. I talk with Jesus on my membership in the Church, and ask him to help me be a living stone in this his house. May this house be open to all men and women of all time.
What feelings are rising in me as I pray and reflect on God's Word? I imagine Jesus himself sitting or standing near me and open my heart to him.
I thank God for these few moments we have spent alone together and for any insights I may have been given concerning the text.
Glorify the Lord with me, let us together extol his name. (Psalm 34:4)
St. Peter and St. Paul met face-to-face only a handful of times, and those meetings were not always affable. (You can read Galatians 2:11-14 for one example.) But despite their strong personalities and disagreements, both men shared the same calling, and for all their clashing, God brought them along similar paths in their ministries. In fact, the parallels between the two can be surprising!
• Both were powerful preachers whose words led their hearers to profound conversion.
• Both were persecuted and imprisoned and were released from jail in miraculous ways.
• Both heard from God through visions that changed the direction of their ministry. And in each case, God prepared someone to welcome them into this new ministry.
• Both exercised the gift of healing. People flocked to them, to the point of laying out handkerchiefs for them to touch.
• Finally, each of them was martyred in Rome—Peter crucified upside down and Paul, the Roman citizen, beheaded.
Yes, they had very different personalities. Yes, they often approached their ministry in different ways. But these two apostles were after the same thing: they both dedicated their lives to proclaiming Christ to all peoples.
God's call isn't so different today. In your own parish, there are probably people who don't get along so well with each other. Maybe the social outreach committee doesn't see eye to eye with the youth ministry. You yourself may be uncomfortable with some parishioners who are following Christ in a different way than you.
But let's learn from Peter and Paul. Our differences don't have to separate us. We are all trying to serve the Lord and follow him as best we understand. We may pursue the Lord in different ways, but we're on the same road. So let's bless each other and uphold each other in prayer!
"Lord, bless all of your people, especially those who are different from me. Help me to see that we are all essential to your plan."
Acts 12:1-11 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18 Matthew 16:13-19
my2cents: We heard today that "King Herod laid hands upon some members of the Church to harm them." A few decades later, Saul (later named Saint Paul) would be doing the same, laying his hands on members of the Church to harm them. Saint Peter, our first Pope, was in chains, and in jail, and awaiting trial, when an angel leads him out of the caves of darkness and into the light. Does this happen to people when they die? Because we are speaking spiritually. Lest we forget that we are not only human bodies but spirits alive and the soul within. There is much more at hand...like the Kingdom of God granted to Saint Peter and his successors. And so we pray today "The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him", it was written so it would be fulfilled and it is fulfilled already, and can be fulfilled through us. How many of us have been saved by an angel? Someone who risks their lives to save you and then they disappear? It is by the hand of God that love lives, and the Church will always stand until the end of the world, and it will stand for the truth because it stands with Christ, and we are speaking of the Holy Catholic Church, because the offshoots it has, denominations are one day going to be asked to stand with the truth or against it, and already the denominations are against it, siding with the world on abortions and homosexual unions, uniting with death, and we know death is darkness, no truth, no light. Fear Him and walk out of darkness, follow the light. The Holy Gospel presents Saint Paul. This man could be compared to one in darkness, oblivious to the truth, but zealous for which he stood. Too many of us stand on the fence, sitting there, criticizing the ones inside the fence and also the ones outside the fence, standing on neutrality and not on the whole truth. At least Saint Paul would be zealous for God and sought the truth and the truth struck him with a light, knocked him off his high horse, and realized he was blinded, darkness for 3 days was granted, and then became Saint Paul, no longer Saul. The common denominator for Saint Peter and Saint Paul is that at one point in their lives they were dominated by the world, the devil, because Jesus said to Saint Peter ""Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." Get behind me because you are trying to lead me, or better said mis- lead me, to lead me to a fall from Heaven, a falling away from the Lord our God. And the leader is pride, and it is Satan's pride. While in Colorado, I went to get food at a Carl's Jr. across the road from the hotel, and I took my kids by the hand. A shorter thin clerk was attentive, had ear brows pierced and shave marks, simple tattoos on his arms, and was very helpful, and so it threw me off when I noticed his name tag..."Satan". That's what his name was and I was being served very attentively. They say this is how evil works, and take it for sure, kids are lured to kidnappings like this, helpfulness, like once as a kid I was asked by a stranger to hop in to help with directions, but I declined and walked away from the car, or like prostitutes found by pimps, they offer help, and then are slaves, or terrorists recruiting by helping those lost in faith to find faith in them and their mission, to offer to give up their lives for something.
In deed, Saints Peter and Paul were lured at one time but they found the truth, and the truth to die for. Today, their heads are at our Basilica where the Pope is. These heads of the Holy Church is proof of our case for holiness, if they can do it, any body can do it. The world is being molded into something it is not intended for. The molding is created by evil and asking for people to hop in so it can be baked in the fire. The moldings are the ways and sins of the world, death and destruction. Homosexuality and abortions go hand in hand, bring death to families. Darkness looms close by. Life is on the brinks for the next few decades, and one day, life will be precious again, because today it is despised. And the sad part is, that life is Christ because Jesus said I am the Way, the Truth, and the LIFE. If you are closed to life with contraceptions then realize you have fallen for the misconception against conception itself. These are doors closed to life. These are doors closed to what God intends, for us to be fruitful and multiply. Instead of joy on finding out you are having a child, great darkness overcomes, with death looming as an option. Sad because you didn't want things this way. And so the devil offers to be help. Saints Peter and Paul stand with us today from the Heavens, urging us to choose the way of Life, the way of the Lord, the Truth. They ultimately were killed, and the ending is what matters, isn't it? How will you end up? How will you end up giving your life? No longer taking lives? Blocking lives? No longer setting people in prisons and sentencing to death!? Repentance is expected. Your decision to be faithful begins this very day. Abortions began nearly 50 years ago, granted by faulty decisions of courts. This week faulty decisions were made in favor, in favor of death, and ultimately the death is against the Holy Church. Homosexuality is now beginning and decades of easing in will also be the same, ultimately wishing death against the Holy Church. The momentum has begun, and the fight for truth is the race we are in. Your faithfulness is being asked of, nothing else. Today, we baptize baby number 7, a baby named Jayden, which is supposed to mean "Thankful" in Hebrew. But we weren't thankful when we found out he was coming right after Adonai (Which means Lord, Lord, my God). We were terrified, but faith had to enter. There was no option, no death option. And today, when Jayden smiles, everything changes, his eyes follow my every move, and responds in ways that are surprising, especially during family prayers. An angel is born. The world is culminating into the death of angels in the wombs today. I want you then, to pray, and be active in being pro Christ, which is pro life. I need your help, I need you to be the life of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
From Saint Paul to the Galatians "For through the law I died to the law,* that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me;
insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me"