These are the ones who, living in the flesh, planted the Church with their blood; they drank the chalice of the Lord and became the friends of God.
O God, who on the solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul, give us the noble and holy joy of this day, grant, we pray, that your Church may in all things follow the teaching of those through whom she received the beginnings of right religion. Through our Lord. .
“Now I am sure that the Lord has rescued me from the hand of Herod.”
A reading from the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 12: 1- 11)
In those days: Herod the king laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the Church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword; and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the Church. The very night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison; and behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him; he did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened to them of its own accord, and they went out and passed on through one street; and immediately the angel left him. And Peter came to himself, and said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”
The word of the Lord.
RESPONSORIAL PSALM Ps 34:2-3.4-5.6-7.5-9 (R. cf. 5b)
R/. From all my terrors, the Lord set me free.
I will bless the Lord at all times,
praise of him is always in my mouth.
In the Lord my soul shall make its boast;
the humble shall hear and be glad. R.
Glorify the Lord with me;
together let us praise his name.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
from all my terrors he set me free. R.
Look towards him and be radiant;
let your faces not be abashed.
This lowly one called; the Lord heard,
and rescued him from all his distress. R.
The angel of the Lord is encamped
around those who fear him, to rescue them.
Taste and see that the Lord is good. ,
Blessed the man who seeks refuge in him. R.
“From now on there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness.”
A reading from the second Letter of Saint Paul to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17- 18)
Beloved: I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the word fully, that all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
The word of the Lord.
ALLELUIA Cf. Matthew 16:18
Alleluia. You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. Alleluia.
“You are Peter and I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (Matthew 16:13-19)
At that time: When Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
Peter and Paul, the two greatest pillars of the church remain for us models of a faith lived in its totality. Peter is the rock on whom Jesus built his Church and Paul defended it by giving his own life. When Jesus asked his disciples ‘Who do you say that I am?, it was Peter who spoke up and acknowledged that he is ‘the Christ, the Son of the living God’. What matters to Jesus is not who he is to others but who each of us thinks he is. Peter, though faltering many times, will get up to accept Jesus as his Messiah and will proclaim him crucified even at the cost of his very life.
Saul, who was determined to annihilate anyone who took the name of Jesus, became a fierce defender of the faith when he personally came in contact with Jesus. He lived Jesus and his gospel to the extent that he was able to proclaim “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me”. He reiterates his personal transformation into Christ Jesus when he challenges us thus: “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ”. Perhaps there is no other disciple who identified with Jesus in life more than Paul.
Peter and Paul became for us not merely models of faith but persons who dared to leave their ideologies, ambitions and expectations to live and proclaim Jesus. They experienced Jesus personally, lived him radically, resolutely and uncompromisingly preached him and gave their lives to show the world the Jesus their saviour is greater than life! They did everything in him who strengthened them to carry on Jesus’ mission here on earth.