Readings for Wednesday June 29, 2011
Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
First Reading: Acts 12:1-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 34
Second Reading: 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18
Gospel: Matthew 16:13-19
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. (2 Tim. 4:6-8, 17-18)
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, apostles of the Church. But what exactly is it that makes these two men so special? One thing is that what we see from the readings today is that both of the came to the realization of who God is and who they are. They both realized that Jesus is the king of kings and the Lord of Lords. He is our Lord and redeemer, and we are each called to pick up our crosses daily and follow Him. What is interesting is that both of these men had a very rocky start with Christ. Peter was just a fisherman who followed Christ when it was convenient. Paul was a devout Jew who sought to persecute the early Church. I guess that you could say that both of them came a long way in their lives.
Even though they both had rough starts, they both had strong finishes. Both fought opposition, persecution, ailments, ridicule, imprisonment, and eventually martyrdom. But both saw their struggles as a blessing, not a curse. Both had , as Saint Paul put it, "competed well ... finished the race ... [and] kept the faith." This is the lesson that we can learn from each of these men. Even though we might get off to rocky starts in our own life, it is never too late to turn things around and turn towards the Lord. We are all in this race of life, and we are each called to compete well and finish the race. For it is by finishing the race well that we each receive the great reward of heaven.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us!
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, you are our Lord, help us to build our lives on your solid foundation. Lord, thank you for your great love and mercy, help us to go out into this world and show this same great love and mercy. Lord, we pray for all the persecuted, may they find their strength and comfort in you. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.