READINGS for 2008-06-29
Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles
I have competed well, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. – 2 Timothy 4:7
One of my bedside books now is Asian Saints by Fr. Francis X. Clark, SJ. This inspiring work narrates the colorful lives of the Asian martyrs. I couldn’t help but see how our verse today resonates loudly in the choices these saints have made. Here are some of their last words...
“Courage, go on. Cut me in as many pieces as you wish, and you will see that every piece is Catholic,” said Blessed Si, an 18-year-old Chinese whose right arm had been cut off because of his faith.
“I profess the religion of the Lord of heaven and earth, and I will never deny it…. If you allow me to live, good; if not, I die with pleasure,” said Lawrence Ngon, a Vietnamese layman.
“I am afraid to die, but I am more afraid to deny God,” said Son Cha-son, a 28-yearold Korean who was strangled after he spoke these decisive words.
“You may kill us, but you cannot kill the Church and you cannot kill God,” said Sr. Agnes Phila, 31, who was killed with rifles in Thailand.
“For God I will give many thousand lives if I had them,” said our own Lorenzo Ruiz.
My friend, how have we kept our faith?
Think of concrete steps on how you can become a “saint” in your own situation.
Lord, give me courage and boldness to run my race and make You proud.
Peter served as the first and longest reigning pope — about 34 years. This indicatesthe importance of his role in setting the foundations of the Church. The Church has survived 2,000 years. It is the longest continuous institution in the history of humanity. We have much to thank God for in the dedication of men like Peter who gave their lives in the service of something far greater than themselves.
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. 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. 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.”
P S A L M
Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
R: The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
1  I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall be ever in my mouth. 2  Let my soul glory in the LORD; the lowly will hear me and be glad. (R) 3  Glorify the LORD with me, let us together extol his name. 4  I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. (R) 5  Look to him that you may be radiant with joy, and your faces may not blush with shame. 6  When the poor one called out, the LORD heard, and from all his distress he saved him. (R) 7  The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 8  Taste and see how good the LORD is; happy the man who takes refuge in him. (R)
St. Paul established many communities in different regions of the Roman Empire. He sought to create a community that would endure the ravages and trials of time and persecution. In choosing men to lead these communities, Paul gives us a partial witness of the authority structure that will shape the Church for millennia to come. We are privileged to be a part of a reality that is clearly rooted on the teachings of Jesus and His apostles.
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18
6 I 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 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 the every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
G O S P E L
Here is one of the texts that unequivocally supports the structure of the Church. Jesus chose men and formed them as leaders to take over His mission when He departed. It is clear that Peter had a leadership role in this group. Jesus intended this structure to continue beyond the apostles lives and provide the foundation for the Church as we know it today.
13 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.”
think: How am I carrying out Jesus’ mission today?
God’s special verse/thought for me today________________
T O D A Y ’ S BLESSING LIST
Thank You Lord for: ____________________________________
READ THE BIBLE IN ONE YEAR 2 Chronicles 16-18
My weekly time with God
THANK YOU LIST
Things to be grateful for from the past week
Things to ask God for in the coming week
Most important word God told me this week
THE CHURCH IS BUILT ON ROCK
For many centuries, the undisputed interpretation of the text we have for today’s Gospel supported both the primacy of the role of Peter among the apostles, and provided part of the scriptural support for the Church’s understanding of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Today, inspite the many different interpretations given, I have yet to hear one good argument that indicates the Catholic Church has its interpretation wrong. In fact, the Catholic understanding, in my opinion, is the only one that stands up to any sort of rigorous theological and scriptural investigation.
Today, we celebrate the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, two of the greatest men of the Church who lived. In the Gospel, we clearly hear Jesus outlining His will to Peter concerning the establishing of the Church, and how he has a special role in the Church. The Church is established to protect and guard its essence or charism – the gift of salvation it ministers to the world. We know that there needs to be an established order in any movement if it is going to last beyond the first generation. And it is here we see the fault of so many of today’s so called independent gospel churches. As soon as someone disagrees with the pastor, they split and create a new church precisely because there is no real order within the church. And there never will be until they return to the scriptural basis of authority in the Church, and recognize what it was that Jesus was doing when He spoke to Peter in the words we read today.
While there can be times when we think the Catholic Church is too strict or is too bogged down in authoritarian structures, there is a reason for this. Jesus wanted the Church to endure. Without the institution of authority, this would be impossible as we see in the constant splitting of the independent churches. We have to be careful that the institution does not suppress the charism or ministry of the Church. That is why the Holy Spirit continues to raise up new movements and communities in the life of the Catholic Church. Fr. Steve Tynan
Do I understand and accept the place of authority in the life of the Church? If not, maybe I need to pray for the grace to understand its reason better.
Holy Spirit, do not allow me to be disillusioned with the slowness of the Church to respond to certain issues. Help me to respond to the Holy Spirit’s calling while remaining faithful to the Church at all times.
Sts. Salome and Judith, anchorites, pray for us.
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