Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles

June 29

 

 

 

CATHOLIC ALMANAC

Saturday, June 29

Liturgical Color: Red

Today is the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul,
Apostles. St. Paul was a savage persecutor of
Christians until he had a vision of Jesus. After his
conversion he avidly spread the Gospel across
the Roman Empire until he himself was martyred.

 


June 29 2019

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles

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.”

 

 

 

 


 

Jesus Returning the Keys to St. Peter

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

1820
Musee Ingres, Montauban, France

 


 

 

Madonna and Child Enthroned with Saints Peter and Paul

Giuseppe Cesari

Oil On Canvas, 174 x 120 cm 1608 Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO

 

 


From: Acts 3:1-10

Cure of a Man Lame from Birth


[1] Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the
ninth hour. [2] And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid
daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful to ask alms of those
who entered the temple. [3] Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple,
he asked for alms. [4] And Peter directed his gaze at him, with John, and said,
“Look at us.” [5] And he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive
something from them. [6] But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but I give
you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” [7] And he took
him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles
were made strong. [8] And leaping up he stood and walked and entered the tem-
ple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. [9] And all the people saw
him walking and praising God, [10] and recognized him as the one who sat for
alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder at
what had happened to him.*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

1. This was the hour of the evening sacrifice, which began around three o’clock
and was attended by a large number of devout Jews. The ritual, which went on
until dusk, was the second sacrifice of the day. The earlier one, on similar
lines, began at dawn and lasted until nine in the morning.

2. None of the documents that have come down to us which describe the Tem-
ple mentions a gate of this name. It was probably the Gate of Nicanor (or Corin-
thian Gate), which linked the court of the Gentiles with the court of the women
which led on to the court of the Israelites. It was architecturally a very fine struc-
ture and because of its location it was a very busy place, which would have
made it a very good place for begging.

3-8. The cure of this cripple was the first miracle worked by the Apostles. “This
cure”, says St. John Chrysostom, “testifies to the resurrection of Christ, of which
it is an image. […] Observe that they do not go up to the temple with the inten-
tion of performing the miracle, so clear were they of ambition, so closely did they
imitate their Master” (”Hom. on Acts”, 8).

However, the Apostles decide that the time has come to use the supernatural
power given them by God. What Christ did in the Gospel using His own divine po-
wer, the Apostles now do in His name, using His power. “The blind receive their
sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised
up” (Luke 7:22). Our Lord now keeps His promise to empower His disciples to
work miracles—visible signs of the coming of the Kingdom of God. These mira-
cles are not extraordinary actions done casually or suddenly, without His disci-
ples’ involvement: they occur because our Lord is moved to perform them by the
Apostles’ faith (faith is an essential pre-condition). The disciples are conscious
of having received a gift and they act on foot of it.

These miracles in the New Testament obviously occur in situations where grace
is intensely concentrated. However, that is not to say that miracles do not con-
tinue to occur in the Christian economy of salvation—miracles of different kinds,
performed because God is attracted to men and women of faith. “The same is
true of us. If we struggle daily to become saints, each of us in his own situation
in the world and through his own job or profession, in our ordinary lives, then I
assure you that God will make us into instruments that can work miracles and,
if necessary, miracles of the most extraordinary kind. We will give sight to the
blind. Who could not relate thousands of cases of people, blind almost from the
day they were born, recovering their sight and receiving all the splendor of Christ’s
light? And others who were deaf, or dumb, who could not hear or pronounce words
fitting to God’s children…. Their senses have been purified and now they hear and
speak as men, not animals. “In nomine Iesu!” In the name of Jesus His Apostles
enable the cripple to move and walk, when previously he had been incapable of
doing anything useful; and that other lazy character, who knew his duties but
didn’t fulfill them. […] In the Lord’s name, “surge et ambula!”, rise up and walk.

“Another man was dead, rotting, smelling like a corpse: he hears God’s voice, as
in the miracle of the son of the widow at Naim: ‘Young man, I say to you, rise up’.
We will work miracles like Christ did, like the first Apostles did” (St. J. Escriva,
“Friends of God”, 262).

Miracles call for cooperation — faith — on the part of those who wish to be cured.
The lame man does his bit, even if it is only the simple gesture of obeying Peter
and looking at the Apostles.

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


From: Galatians 1:11-20

God’s Call


[11] For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by
me is not man’s gospel. [12] For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it,
but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.[13] For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church
of God violently and tried to destroy it; [14] and I advanced in Judaism beyond ma-
ny of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions
of my fathers. [15] But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had
called me through his grace, [16] was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order
that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood,
[17] nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I
went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus.

[18] Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained
with him fifteen days. [19] But I saw none of the other apostles except James the
Lord’s brother. [20] (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!)

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

11-12. “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:10), Paul asked at the moment of his
conversion. Jesus replied, ‘Rise, and go into Damascus, and there you will be
told all that is appointed for you to do” (ibid.). The former persecutor, now under
the influence of grace, will receive instruction and Baptism through the ordinary
course of divine Providence—from a man, Ananias. Thereby Jesus led him to hu-
mility, obedience and abandonment. The Gospel which St Paul preached was i-
dentical with that preached by the other Apostles, and already had the character
of “tradition” in the nascent Church (cf. 1 Cor 15:3; Gal 2:2). This is compatible
with Paul’s claim—made in this passage—that his Gospel does not come from
any man but through a revelation from Jesus Christ. Firstly, because on seeing
the risen Christ he was given supernatural light to understand that Jesus was not
only the Messiah but also the Son of God; and also because this first revelation
was followed by many others to which he refers in his epistles (cf. 1 Cor 11:23;
13:3-8 and especially 2 Cor 12:1-4).

St Paul’s was a unique case, because normally a person came to know the Gos-
pel of Christ by receiving it or learning it from those who had seen Christ during
his life on earth and listened to his teachings. This was what happened in St
Luke’s case, for example (cf. Lk 1:2). St Paul still felt the need to go to Jeru-
salem to hear the Apostles’ preaching (cf. below 1:16-18), especially that of St
Peter.

13-14. The Acts of the Apostles tell us about Paul’s religious zeal; a Pharisee,
he had studied under Gamaliel (cf. Acts 22:3; Phil 3:5) and had consented to
and been present at the martyrdom of Stephen (cf. Acts 7:58; 8:1). Saul had
stood out as a persecutor of Christians, so keen was he to seek them out and
imprison them, even going beyond Judea to do so (cf. Acts 9:1-2). Clearly he
had been a man convinced of his Jewish faith, a zealous keeper of the Law,
and proud to be a Jew (cf. Rom 11:1 ; 2 Cor 11:22). Such was the fear the early
Christians had of him that they could not bring themselves to believe in his con-
version (cf. Acts 9:26). However, this same fervor and passion, to use St Augus-
tine’s comparison (cf. “Contra Faustum”, XXII, 70) was like a dense jungle — a
serious obstacle and yet an indication of immensely fertile soil. Our Lord sowed
the seed of the Gospel in that soil and it produced a very rich crop.

Everyone, no matter how irregular his life may have been, can produce good re-
sults like this—with the help of grace, which does not displace nature but heals
and purifies it, and then raises and perfects it: Courage! You…can! Don’t you see
what God’s grace did with sleepy-headed Peter, the coward who had denied him
…, and with Paul, his fierce and relentless persecutor?” (St. J. Escriva, “The
Way”, 483).

15-16. More than once in Scripture we read about God choosing certain people
for special missions even when they were still in their mother’s womb (cf. Jer 1:5;
Is 49:1-5; Lk 1:15; etc.). This emphasizes the fact that God makes a gratuitous
choice: there is no question of the person’s previous merits contributing to God’s
decision. Vocation is a supernatural divine gift, which God has planned from all
eternity. When God made his will known on the road to Damascus (cf. Acts 9:
3-6), St Paul “did not confer with flesh and blood”, that is, did not seek advice
from anyone, because he was absolutely sure that God himself had called him.
Nor did he consent to the prudence of the flesh, seeking to “play safe”: his self-
surrender was immediate, total and unconditional. When the Apostles heard Je-
sus inviting them to follow him, they “immediately left their nets” (Mt 4:20, 22;
Mk 1:18) and followed the Master, leaving everything behind (cf. Lk 5:11). We
see the same thing happening in Saul’s case: he responds immediately. If he
makes his way to Ananias, he does so on the explicit instructions of Jesus—in
order to receive instruction and Baptism and to discover what his mission is to
be (Acts 9:15-16).

God’s call, therefore, should receive an immediate response. “Consider the faith
and obedience of the Apostles”, St John Chrysostom says. “They are in the
midst of their work (and you know how attractive fishing is!). When they hear his
command, they do not vacillate or lose any time: they do not say, ‘Let’s go home
and say goodbye to our parents.’ No, they leave everything and follow him […].
That is the kind of obedience Christ asks of us — not to delay even a minute, no
matter how important the things that might keep us” (”Hom. on St Matthew”, 14,
2). And St Cyril of Alexandria comments: “For Jesus also said, ‘No one who puts
his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God’, and he
looked back who asked permission to return home and speak to his parents. But
we see that the holy Apostles did not act in that way; rather they followed Jesus,
immediately leaving the boat and their parents behind. Paul also acted immedia-
tely. He ‘did not confer with flesh and blood’. That is how those who want to fol-
low Christ must act” (”Commentarium in Lucam”, 9).

A person has a duty to follow Christ even if his relatives are opposed to his doing
so or want him to delay making a final decision, perhaps because they feel that
would be the more (humanly) prudent course: “A person should honor his parents,
but God he should obey. We should love the one who has begotten us, but the
first place should be given to him who created us”, St Augustine says, not min-
cing words (”Sermon 100”).

Even if we are unsure as to whether we are strong enough to persevere, this
should not delay us or concern us: it should simply lead us to pray confidently
for God’s help, because, as Vatican II teaches, when God calls a person, he
“must reply without taking counsel with flesh and blood and must give himself
fully to the work of the Gospel. However, such an answer can only be given with
the encouragement and help of the Holy Spirit […]. Therefore, he must be pre-
pared to remain faithful to his vocation for life, to renounce himself and everything
that up to this he possessed as his own, and to make himself ‘all things to all
men’ (1 Cor 9:22)” (”Ad Gentes”, 24).

17-20. After a period of time devoted to penance and prayer, St Paul made his
way to Jerusalem (cf. Acts 9:26-30) to see Cephas, that is, Peter. His stay of
two weeks is an important indication of Paul’s recognition of and veneration for
Peter, chosen as he had been as the foundation stone of the Church.

In subsequent generations, right down the centuries, Christians have shown their
love for Peter and his successors, traveling to Rome often at great personal effort
and sometimes, even, risk. “Catholic, apostolic, “Roman”! I want you to be very
Roman. And to be anxious to make your ‘path to Rome’, “videre Petrum” — to see
Peter (St. J. Escriva, “The Way”, 520). Solidarity with and veneration for the Pope
is, then, a clear, practical sign of good Christian spirit.

“James the Lord’s brother” (cf. notes on Mt 12:46-47 and 13:55) is, most com-
mentators think, James the Less (cf. Mk 15:40), also called the son of Alphaeus
(cf. Lk 6:15) and author of the letter which bears his name (cf. Jas 1:1).

*********************************************************************************************
SSource: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


Catholic Culture

Ordinary Time: June 29th

Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, apostles

MASS READINGS

June 29, 2019 (Readings on USCCB website)

COLLECT PRAYER

Grant, we pray, O Lord our God, that we may be sustained by the intercession of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, that, as through them you gave your Church the foundations of her heavenly office, so through them you may help her to eternal salvation. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

show

Recipes (11)

show

Activities (8)

show

Prayers (5)

show

Library (2)

» Enjoy our Liturgical Seasons series of e-books!

Old Calendar: Holy Apostles Peter and Paul

Veneration of the two great Apostles, Peter and Paul, has its roots in the very foundations of the Church. They are the solid rock on which the Church is built. They are at the origin of her faith and will forever remain her protectors and her guides. To them Rome owes her true greatness, for it was under God’s providential guidance that they were led to make the capital of the Empire, sanctified by their martyrdom, the center of the Christian world whence should radiate the preaching of the Gospel.

St. Peter suffered martyrdom under Nero, in A.D. 66 or 67. He was buried on the hill of the Vatican where recent excavations have revealed his tomb on the very site of the Basilica of St. Peter’s. St. Paul was beheaded in the Via Ostia on the spot where now stands the basilica bearing his name. Down the centuries Christian people in their thousands have gone on pilgrimage to the tombs of these Apostles. In the second and third centuries the Roman Church already stood pre-eminent by reason of her apostolicity, the infallible truth of her teaching and her two great figures, Sts. Peter and Paul.

A partial indulgence may be gained today by anyone who makes devout use of a religious article blessed by any priest but “if the article of devotion has been blessed by the Sovereign Pontiff or by any Bishop, the faithful, using it, can also gain a plenary indulgence, provided they also make a profession of faith (e.g. the Apostles Creed), as long as the usual conditions are satisfied.

Catholic Culture prepared this special section during the Year of St. Paul which was June 29, 2008 – June 29, 2009.

Today is the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary which is superseded by the Solemnity.


St. Peter
Peter’s original name was Simon. Christ Himself gave him the name Cephas or Peter when they first met and later confirmed it. This name change was meant to show both Peter’s rank as leader of the apostles and the outstanding trait of his character — Peter (in Hebrew Kephas) the Rock. Peter was born in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. Like his younger brother Andrew, he was a fisherman and dwelt at Capernaum. Peter’s house often became the scene of miracles, since the Master would stay there whenever He was teaching in that locality. Together with his brothers John and Andrew, Peter belonged to the first of Jesus’ disciples (John 1:40-50).

After the miraculous draught of fish on the Sea of Galilee, Peter received his definitive call and left wife, family, and occupation to take his place as leader of the Twelve. Thereafter we find him continually at Jesus’ side, whether it be as spokesman of the apostolic college (John 6:68; Matt. 16:16), or as one specially favored (e.g., at the restoration to life of Jairus’ daughter, at the transfiguration, during the agony in the garden). His sanguine temperament often led him into hasty, unpremeditated words and actions; his denial of Jesus during the passion was a salutary lesson. It accentuated a weakness in his character and made him humble.

After the ascension, Peter always took the leading role, exercising the office of chief shepherd that Christ had entrusted to him. He delivered the first sermon on Pentecost and received the first Gentiles into the Church (Cornelius; Acts 10:1). Paul went to Jerusalem “to see Peter.” After his miraculous deliverance from prison (Easter, 42 A.D.), Peter “went to a different place,” most probably to Rome. Details now become scanty; we hear of his presence at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1), and of his journey to Antioch (Gal. 2:11).

It is certain that Peter labored in Rome as an apostle, that he was the city’s first bishop, and that he died there as a martyr, bound to a cross (67 A.D.). According to tradition he also was the first bishop of Antioch. He is the author of two letters, the first Christian encyclicals. His burial place is Christendom’s most famous shrine, an edifice around whose dome are inscribed the words: Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam.

Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: Against frenzy; bakers; bridge builders; butchers; clock makers; cobblers; Exeter College Oxford; feet problems; fever; fishermen; harvesters; locksmiths; longevity; masons; net makers; papacy; Popes; ship builders; shipwrights; shoemakers; stone masons; Universal Church; watch makers; Poznan, Poland; Rome; Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi; Diocese of Las Vegas, Nevada; Diocese of Marquette, Michigan; Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island; Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Symbols: Two keys saltire; pastoral staff and two large keys; inverted cross; inverted cross and two keys saltire; crowing cock; fish; two swords; patriarchal cross and two keys saltire; two keys and a scroll; sword.
Often portrayed as: Bald man, often with a fringe of hair on the sides and a tuft on top; book; keys; man crucified head downwards; man holding a key or keys; man robed as a pope and bearing keys and a double-barred cross.


St. Paul
Paul, known as Saul (his Roman name) before his conversion, was born at Tarsus in the Roman province of Silicia about two or three years after the advent of the Redeemer. He was the son of Jewish parents who belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, was reared according to the strict religious-nationalistic party of the Pharisees, and enjoyed the high distinction of Roman citizenship.

As a youth he went to Jerusalem to become immersed in the Law and had as a teacher the celebrated Gamaliel. He acquired skill as a tent-maker, a work he continued even as an apostle. At the time of Jesus’ ministry he no longer was at Jerusalem; neither did he see the Lord during His earthly-life. Upon returning to the Holy City, Paul discovered a flourishing Christian community and at once became its bitter opponent. When Stephen impugned Law and temple, Paul was one of the first at his stoning; thereafter his fiery personality would lead the persecution. Breathing threats of slaughter against the disciples of Jesus, he was hurrying to Damascus when the grace of God effected his conversion (about the year 34 A.D.; see January 25, Conversion of St. Paul).

After receiving baptism and making some initial attempts at preaching, Paul withdrew into the Arabian desert (c. 34-37 A.D.), where he prepared himself for his future mission. During this retreat he was favored with special revelations, Christ appearing to him personally. Upon his return to Damascus he began to preach but was forced to leave when the Jews sought to kill him. Then he went to Jerusalem “to see Peter.” Barnabas introduced him to the Christian community, but the hatred of the Jews again obliged him to take secret flight. The following years (38-42 A.D.) he spent at Tarsus until Barnabas brought him to the newly founded Christian community at Antioch, where both worked a year for the cause of Christ; in the year 44 he made another journey to Jerusalem with the money collected for that famine stricken community.

The first major missionary journey (45-48) began upon his return as he and Barnabas brought the Gospel to Cyprus and Asia Minor (Acts 13-14). The Council of Jerusalem occasioned Paul’s reappearance in Jerusalem (50). Spurred on by the decisions of the Council, he began the second missionary journey (51-53), traveling through Asia Minor and then crossing over to Europe and founding churches at Philippi, Thessalonia (his favorite), Berea, Athens, Corinth. He remained almost two years at Corinth, establishing a very flourishing and important community. In 54 he returned to Jerusalem for the fourth time.

Paul’s third missionary journey (54-58) took him to Ephesus, where he labored three years with good success; after visiting his European communities, he returned to Jerusalem for a fifth time (Pentecost, 58). There he was seized by the Jews and accused of condemning the Law. After being held as a prisoner for two years at Caesarea, he appealed to Caesar and was sent by sea to Rome (60 A.D.). Shipwrecked and delayed on the island of Malta, he arrived at Rome in the spring of 61 and passed the next two years in easy confinement before being released. The last years of the saint’s life were devoted to missionary excursions, probably including Spain, and to revisiting his first foundations. In 66 he returned to Rome, was taken prisoner, and beheaded a year later. His fourteen letters are a precious legacy; they afford a deep insight into a great soul.

Excerpted from The Church’s Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: Against snakes; authors; Cursillo movement; evangelists; hailstorms; hospital public relations; journalists; lay people; missionary bishops; musicians; poisonous snakes; public relations personnel; public relations work; publishers; reporters; rope braiders; rope makers; saddlemakers; saddlers; snake bites; tent makers; writers; Malta; Rome; Poznan, Poland; newspaper editorial staff, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Diocese of Covington, Kentucky; Diocese of Birmingham, Alabama; Diocese of Las Vegas, Nevada; Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island; Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts.

Symbols: Book and sword, three fountains; two swords; scourge; serpent and a fire; armour of God; twelve scrolls with names of his Epistles; Phoenix; palm tree; shield of faith; sword; book.
Often portrayed as: Thin-faced elderly man with a high forehead, receding hairline and long pointed beard; man holding a sword and a book; man with 3 springs of water nearby;

Things to Do:

  • From the Directory on Popular Piety, this feast is important because “it is always useful to teach the faithful to realize the importance and significance of the feasts of those Saints who have had a particular mission in the history of Salvation, or a singular relationship with Christ such as St. John the Baptist (24 June), St. Joseph (19 March), Sts. Peter and Paul (29 June), the Apostles and Evangelists, St. Mary Magdalen (22 July), St. Martha (29 July) and St. Stephen (26 December).”
  • The Directory on Popular Piety also explains the devotion of the Christian Pilgrimage. During the Middle Ages in particular, “pilgrims came to Rome to venerate the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul (ad Limina Apostolorum), the catacombs and basilicas, in recognition of the service rendered to the universal Church by the successor of Peter.”
  • Besides the recipes in our database, Cooking With the Saints by Ernst Schuegraf has seven recipes alone for the feast of St. Peter. This is a wonderful book, beautifully illustrated with art of the saints and the actual dishes. This would be a great addition to your liturgical year library.
  • Learn more about St. Paul, read Paul of Tarsus

The Word Among Us

Meditation: 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18

Saints and Peter and Paul, Apostles (Solemnity)

The Lord stood by me. (2 Timothy 4:17)

At the foot of the steps leading into St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome stand two commanding statues, one of St. Peter and the other of St. Paul. Each statue is eighteen feet tall and sits on a sixteen-foot-tall pedestal. Standing at opposite ends of the steps, these statues act both as sentinels guarding the church and as emblems of the Church spread throughout the world.

In his statue, St. Peter is depicted with a large key, which recalls how Jesus gave him the “keys to the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:19). He has an expression of care and concern as he looks down toward the people gathered in the square: a pastor whose heart is full of love for his people.

St. Paul’s statue depicts him looking out intently, with an opened scroll in one hand and a sword in the other—“the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). He is the determined, fiery apostle to the Gentiles, whose letters in the New Testament proclaim the glory of the risen Lord and the power of life in the Holy Spirit.

These are the men we are celebrating today: two pillars of the Church who gave their lives for the gospel. Two men whose writings, preaching, and witness made it possible for the Church to spread out from Jerusalem and cover the whole world.

Near the end of his life, Paul wrote that the Lord had stood by him even when everyone else had deserted him (2 Timothy 4:16-17). As Peter sat in prison, wondering if he would be executed the next morning, an “angel of the Lord stood by him” and set him free (Acts 12:7). This is how these men were able to serve the Church so faithfully. They trusted that God was with them through thick and thin. And that trust held them steady, right up to their final days and their martyrdoms.

In our hearts, just as in St. Peter’s Square, Peter and Paul stand tall as two of the greatest heroes of our faith. Each in his own way shows us what loving, faith-filled discipleship looks like. How blessed we are to have them as part of our history!

“Sts. Peter and Paul, pray for us! We want to be just as faithful as you were.”

Acts 12:1-11
Psalm 34:2-9
Matthew 16:13-19


 

Daily Gospel CommentaryIsaac of Stella (?-c.1171)
Cistercian monk

Sermon 49, 1st for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul ; SC 339

I have become all things to all… not seeking my own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved

(1Cor 9:22; 10:33) “These were men of mercy whose good deeds shall not be forgotten; the wealth they have left their inheritance will last for ever” (Latin liturgy; cf. Sir 44:10-11).” Today, beloved, we are celebrating the birthday of the apostles Peter and Paul and it is altogether fitting that… such a death should be called ‘birth’ since it gave birth to life… See to what the saints have come: through the death that bestows life, they leave this life that leads to death so as to come to that life-giving life which is in the hands of Him who, as Christ said: “has life in Himself” – the Father (Jn 5:26)…

There are three kinds of people who are merciful. The first give of their goods… so as to contribute out of their superfluity to the penury of their neighbor… The second give all their goods away and, for them… everything is held in common with others from then on… But as for the third, they not only expend all they have but are “themselves utterly spent” (2 Cor 12:15) and give themselves up in person to the dangers of prison, exile and death so that they may rescue others from the dangers in which their souls are lying. They pour themselves out because they are so full of ardent desire for others. They will receive the reward of that love of which “there is no greater: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13)… Such are those glorious princes of the earth and servants of heaven of whom today – after long privations “from hunger and thirst, cold and nakedness”, exhaustion and danger, “from their own race, from Gentiles, from false brethren” (2 Cor 11:26-27) – we celebrate the death that was so magnificently victorious. To such as these the saying well applies: “Their good deeds shall never be forgotten” because they have not forgotten mercy… Yes, to the merciful, “their lot has fallen in a pleasant land, their inheritance is without compare” (Ps 16[15]:6).

 


13. When Jesus came into the coasts of Cesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?
14. And they said, Some say that you are John the Baptist, some, Elias; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.
15. He said to them, But whom say you that I am?
16. And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17. And Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood has not revealed it to you, but my Father which is in heaven.
18. And I say also to you, That you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church: and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19. And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

GLOSS; As soon as the Lord had taken His disciples out of the teaching of the Pharisees, He then suitably proceeds to lay deep the foundations of the Gospel doctrine; and to give this the greater solemnity, it is introduced by the name of the place, When Jesus came into the coasts of Cesarea Philippi.

CHRYS; He adds ‘of Philip,’ to distinguish it from the other Cesarea, of Strato. And He asks this question in the former place, leading His disciples far out of the way of the Jews, that being set free from all fear, they might say freely what was in their mind.

JEROME; This Philip was the brother of Herod, the tetrarch of Ituraea, and the region of Trachonitis, who gave to the city, which is now called Paneas the name of Cesarea in honor of Tiberius Cesar.

GLOSS; When about to confirm the disciples in the faith, He would first take away from their minds the errors and opinions of others, whence it follows, And he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that the Son of Man is?

ORIGEN; Christ puts this question to His disciples, that from their answer we may learn that there were at that time among the Jews various opinions concerning Christ; and to the end that we should always investigate what opinion men may form of us; that if any ill be said of us, we may cut off the occasions of it; or if any good, we may multiply the occasions of it.

GLOSS; So by this instance of the Apostles, the followers of the Bishops are instructed, that whatever opinions they may hear out of doors concerning their Bishops, they should tell them to them.

JEROME; Beautifully is the question put, Whom do men say that the Son of Man is? For they who speak of the Son of Man, are men: but they who understood His divine nature are called not men but Gods.

CHRYS; He says not, Whom do the Scribes and Pharisees say that I am? but, Whom do men say that I am? searching into the minds of the common people, which were not perverted to evil. For though their opinion concerning Christ was much below what it ought to have been, yet it was free from willful wickedness; but the opinion of the Pharisees concerning Christ was as full of much malice.

HILARY; By asking, Whom do men say that the Son of Man is? He implied that something ought to be thought respecting Him beyond what appeared, for He was the Son of Man. And in thus inquiring after men’s opinion respecting Himself, we e are not to think that He made confession of Himself; for that which He asked for was something concealed, to which the faith of believers ought to extend itself. We must hold that form of confession, that we so mention the Son of God as not to forget the Son of Man, for the one without the other offers us no hope of salvation; and therefore He said emphatically, Whom do men say that the Son of Man is?

JEROME; He says not, Whom do men say that I am? but, Whom do men say that the Son of Man is? that He should not seem to ask ostentatiously concerning Himself. Observe, that wherever the Old Testament has ‘Son of Man,’ the phrase in the Hebrew is ‘Son of Adam.’

ORIGEN; Then the disciples recount the divers opinions of the Jews relating to Christ; And they said, Some say John the Baptist, following Herod’s opinion; others Elias, supposing either that Elias had gone through a second birth, or that having continued alive in the body, He had at this time appeared; others Jeremiah, whom the Lord had ordained to be Prophet among the Gentiles, not understanding that Jeremiah was a type of Christ; or one of the Prophets, in a like way, because of those things which God spoke to them through the Prophets, yet they were not fulfilled in them, but in Christ.

JEROME; It was as easy for the multitudes to be wrong in supposing Him to be Elias and Jeremiah, as Herod in supposing Him to be John the Baptist; whence I wonder that some interpreters should have sought for the causes of these several errors.

CHRYS; The disciples having recounted the opinion of the common people, He then by a second question invites them to higher thoughts concerning Him; and therefore it follows, Jesus said to them, Whom say you that I am? You who are with Me always, and have seen greater miracles than the multitudes, ought not to agree in the opinion of the multitudes. For this reason He did not put this question to them at the commencement of His preaching, but after He had done many signs; then also He spoke many things to them concerning His Deity.

JEROME; Observe how by this connection of the discourse the Apostles are not styled men but God’s. For when He had said, Whom say you that the Son of Man is? He adds, Whom say you that I am, as much as to say, They being men think of Me as man, you who are God’s, whom do you think Me?

RABAN; He inquires the opinions of His disciples and of those without, not because He was ignorant of them; His disciples He asks, that He may reward with due reward their confession of a right faith; and the opinions of those without He inquires, that having the wrong opinions first set forth, it might be proved that the disciples had received the truth of their confession not from common opinion, but out of the hidden treasure of the Lord’s revelation.

CHRYS; When the Lord inquires concerning the opinion of the multitudes, all the disciples answer; but when all the disciples are asked, Peter as the mouth and head of the Apostles answers for all, as it follows, Simon Peter answered and said, you are Christ, the Son of the living God.

ORIGEN; Peter denied that Jesus was any of those things which the Jews supposed, by his confession, You are the Christ, which the Jews were ignorant of; but he added what was more, the Son of the living God, who had said by his Prophets, I live, said the Lord. And therefore was He called the living Lord, but in a more especial manner as being eminent above all that had life; for He alone has immortality, and is the fount of life, wherefore He is rightly called God the Father; for He is life as it were flowing out of a fountain, who said, I am the life.

JEROME; He calls Him the living God, in comparison of those gods who are esteemed gods, but are dead; such, I mean, as Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, Hercules, and the other monsters of idols.

HILARY; This is the true and unalterable faith, that from God came forth God the Son, who has eternity out of the eternity of the Father. That this God took to Him a body and was made man is a perfect confession. Thus He embraced all in that He here expresses both His nature and His name, in which is the sum of virtues.

RABAN; And by a remarkable distinction it was that the Lord Himself puts forward the lowliness of the humanity which He had taken upon Him, while His disciple shows us the excellence of His divine eternity.

HILARY; This confession of Peter met a worthy reward, for that he had seen the Son of God in the man. Whence it follows, Jesus answered and said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jonas, and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

JEROME; This return Christ makes to the Apostle for the testimony which Peter had spoken concerning Him, You are Christ, the Son of the living God. The Lord said to him, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jonas. Why? Because flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father. That which flesh and blood could not reveal, was revealed by the grace of the Holy Spirit. By his confession then he obtains a title, which should signify that he had received a revelation from the Holy Spirit, whose son he shall also be called; for Bar-Jonas in our tongue signifies the son of a dove. Others take it in the simple sense, that Peter is the son of John, according to that question in another place, Simon, son of John, do you love me? affirming that it is an error of the copyists in writing here Bar-Jonas for Bar-joannas, dropping one syllable. Now Joanna is interpreted ‘The grace of God.’ But either name has its mystical interpretation; the dove signifies the Holy Spirit; and the grace of God signifies the spiritual gift.

CHRYS; It would be without meaning to say, you are the son of Jonas, unless he intended to show that Christ is as naturally the Son of God, as Peter is the son of Jonas, that is, of the same substance as him that begot him.

JEROME; Compare what is here said, flesh and blood ‘has not revealed’ it to you, with the Apostolic declaration, Immediately I was not content with flesh and blood, meaning there by this expression the Jews; so that here also the same thing is shown in different words, that not by the teaching of the Pharisees, but by the grace of God, Christ was revealed to him the Son of God.

HILARY; Otherwise; He is blessed, because to have looked and to have seen beyond human sight is matter of praise, not beholding that which is of flesh and blood, but seeing the Son of God by the revelation of the heavenly Father; and he was held worthy to be the first to acknowledge the divinity which was in Christ.

ORIGEN; It must be inquired in this place whether, when they were first sent out, the disciples knew that He was the Christ. For this speech shows that Peter then first confessed Him to be the Son of the living God. And look whether you can solve a question of this sort, by saying that to believe Jesus to be the Christ is less than to know Him; and so suppose that when they were sent to preach they believed that Jesus was the Christ and afterwards as they made progress they knew Him to be so. Or must we answer thus; That then the Apostles had the beginnings of a knowledge of Christ, and knew some little concerning Him; and that they made progress afterwards in the knowledge of Him, so that they were able to receive the knowledge of Christ revealed by the Father, as Peter, who is here blessed, not only for that he says, You are the Christ, but much more for that he adds, the Son of the living God.

CHRYS; And truly if Peter had not confessed that Christ was in a peculiar sense born of the Father, there had been no need of revelation; nor would he have been worthy of this blessing for confessing Christ to be one of many adopted sons; for before this they who were with Him in the ship had said, Truly you are the Son of God. Nathanael also said, Rabbi, you are the Son of God. Yet were not these blessed because they did not confess such sonship as does Peter here, but thought Him one among many, not in the true sense a son; or, if chief above all, yet not the substance of the Father. But see how the Father reveals the Son, and the Son the Father; from none other comes it to confess the Son than of the Father, and from none other to confess the Father than of the Son; so that from this place even it is manifest that the Son is of the same substance, and to be worshipped together with the Father. Christ then proceeds to show that many would hereafter believe what Peter had now confessed, whence He adds, And I say to you, that you are Peter.

JEROME; As much as to say, You have said to me, You are Christ the Son of the living God, therefore I say to you, not in a mere speech, and that goes not on into operation; but I say to you, and for Me to speak is to make it so, that you are Peter. For as from Christ proceeded that light to the Apostles, whereby they were called the light of the world, and those other names which were imposed upon them by the Lord, so upon Simon who believed in Christ the Rock, He bestowed the name of Peter (Rock.)

AUG; But let none suppose that Peter received that name here; he received it at no other time than where John relates that it was said to him, you shall be called Cephas, which is interpreted, Peter.

JEROME; And pursuing the metaphor of the rock, it is rightly said to him as follows: And upon this rock I will build my Church.

CHRYS; That is, On this faith and confession I will build my Church. Herein showing that many should believe what Peter had confessed, and raising his understanding, and making him His shepherd.

AUG; I have said in a certain place of the Apostle Peter, that it was on him, as on a rock, that the Church was built. But I know that since that I have often explained these words of the Lord, you are Peter, and on this rock will I build my Church, as meaning upon Him whom Peter had confessed in the words, You are Christ, the Son of the living God; and so that Peter, taking his name from this rock, would represent the Church, which is built upon this rock. For it is not said to him, you art the rock, but, you are Peter. But the rock was Christ, whom because Simon thus confessed, as the whole Church confesses Him, he was named Peter. Let the reader choose whether of these two opinions seems to him the more probable.

HILARY; But in this bestowing of a new name is a happy foundation of the Church, and a rock worthy of that building, which should break up the laws of hell, burst the gates of Tartarus, and all the shackles of death. And to show the firmness of this Church thus built upon a rock, He adds, And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

GLOSS; That is, shall not separate it from the love and faith of Me.

JEROME; I suppose the gates of hell to mean vice and sin, or at least the doctrines of heretics by which men are ensnared and drawn into hell.

ORIGEN; But in heavenly things every spiritual sin is a gate of hell, to which are opposed the gates of righteousness.

RABAN; The gates of hell are the torments and promises of the persecutors. Also, the evil works of the unbelievers, and vain conversation, are gates of hell, because they show the path of destruction.

ORIGEN; He does not express what it is which they shall not prevail against, whether the rock on which He builds the Church, or the Church which He builds on the rock; but it is clear that neither against the rock nor against the Church will the gates of hell prevail.

CYRIL; According to this promise of the Lord, the Apostolic Church of Peter remains pure and spotless from all leading into error, or heretical fraud, above all Heads and Bishops, and Primates of Churches and people, with its own Pontiffs, with most abundant faith, and the authority of Peter. And while other Churches have to blush for the error of some of their members, this reigns alone immovably established, enforcing silence, and stopping the mouths of all heretics; and we, not drunken with the wine of pride, confess together with it the type of truth, and of the holy apostolic tradition.

JEROME; Let none think that this is said of death, implying that the Apostles should not be subject to the condition of death, when we see their martyrdoms so illustrious.

ORIGEN; Wherefore if we, by the revelation of our Father who is in heaven, shall confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, having also our conversation in heaven, to us also shall be said, you are Peter; for every one is a Rock who is an imitator of Christ. But against whomsoever the gates of hell prevail, he is neither to be called a rock upon which Christ builds His Church; neither a Church, or part of the Church, which Christ builds upon a rock.

CHRYS; Then He speaks of another honor of Peter, when He adds, And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; as much as to say, As the Father has given you to know Me, I also will give something to you, namely, the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

RABAN; For as with a zeal beyond the others he had confessed the King of heaven, he is deservedly entrusted more than the others with the keys of the heavenly kingdom, that it might be clear to all, that without that confession and faith none ought to enter the kingdom of heaven. By the keys of the kingdom He means discernment and power; power, by which he binds and looses; discernment, by which he separates the worthy from the unworthy.

GLOSS; It follows, And whatsoever you shall bind; that is, whomsoever you shall judge unworthy of forgiveness while he lives, shall be judged unworthy with God; and whatsoever you shall loose, that is, whomsoever you shall judge worthy to be forgiven while he lives, shall obtain forgiveness of his sins from God.

ORIGEN; See how great power has that rock upon which the Church is built, that its sentences are to continue film as though God gave sentence by it.

CHRYS; See how Christ leads Peter to a high understanding concerning himself. These things that He here promises to give him, belong to God alone, namely to forgive sins, and to make the Church immovable amidst the storms of so many persecutions and trials.

RABAN; But this power of binding and loosing, though it seems given by the Lord to Peter alone, is indeed given also to the other Apostles, and is even now in the Bishops and Presbyters in every Church. But Peter received in a special manner the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and a supremacy of judicial power, that all the faithful throughout the world might understand that all who in any manner separate themselves from the unity of the faith, or from communion with him, such should neither be able to be loosed from the bonds of sin, nor to enter the gate of the heavenly kingdom.

GLOSS; This power was committed specially to Peter, that we might thereby be invited to unity. For He therefore appointed him the head of the Apostles, that the Church might have one principal Vicar of Christ, to whom the different members of the Church should have recourse, if ever they should have dissensions among them. But if there were many heads in the Church, the bond of unity would be broken. Some say that the words upon earth denote that power was not given to men to bind and loose the dead, but the living; for he who should loose the dead would do this not upon earth, but after the earth.

SECOND COUNCIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE; How is it that some do presume to say that these things are said only of the living? Know they not that the sentence of anathema is nothing else but separation? They are to be avoided who are held of grievous faults, whether they are among the living, or not. For it is always necessary to fly from the wicked. Moreover there are diverse letters read of Augustine of religious memory, who was of great renown among the African bishops, which affirmed that heretics ought to be anathematized even after death. Such an ecclesiastical tradition other African Bishops also have preserved. And the Holy Roman Church also has anathematized some Bishops after death, although no accusation had been brought against their faith in their lifetimes.

JEROME; Bishops and Presbyters, not understanding this passage, assume to themselves something of the lofty pretensions of the Pharisees, and suppose that they may either condemn the innocent, or absolve the guilty; whereas what will be inquired into before the Lord will be not the sentence of the Priests, but the life of him that is being judged. We read in Leviticus of the lepers, how they are commanded to show themselves to the Priests; and if they have the leprosy, then they are made unclean by the Priest; not that the Priest makes them leprous and unclean, but that the Priest has knowledge of what is leprosy and what is not leprosy, and can discern who is clean, and who is unclean. In the same way then as there the Priest makes the leper unclean, here the Bishop or Presbyter binds or looses not those who are without sin, or guilt, but in discharge of his function when he has heard the varieties of their sins, he knows who is to be bound, and who loosed.

ORIGEN; Let him then be without blame who binds or looses another, that he may be found worthy to bind or loose in heaven. Moreover, to him who shall be able by his virtues to shut the gates of hell, are given in reward the keys of the kingdom of heaven. For every kind of virtue when any has begun to practice it; as it were opens itself before Him, the Lord, namely, opening it through His grace, so that the same virtue is found to be both the gate, and the key of the gate. But it may be that each virtue is itself the kingdom of heaven.

Catena Aurea Matthew 16

 


From: John 21:15-19

Peter’s Primacy


[15] When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son
of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; you know
that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” [16] A second time He said
to him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord, you
know I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” [17] He said to him the third
time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said
to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know
everything; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. [18]
Truly, truly I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked
where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and
another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.” [19] (This He
said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this He said to him,
“Follow Me.”*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

15-17. Jesus Christ had promised Peter that he would be the primate of the
Church (cf. Matthew 16:16-19 and note on the same). Despite his three denials
during our Lord’s passion, Christ now confers on him the primacy He promised.

“Jesus questions Peter, three times, as if to give him a triple chance to atone for
his triple denial. Peter has learned his lesson from the bitter experience of his
wretchedness. Aware of his weakness, he is deeply convinced that rash claims
are pointless. Instead he puts everything in Christ’s hands. ‘Lord, You know well
that I love You” (St. J. Escriva, “Friends of God”, 267). The primacy was given to
Peter directly and immediately. So the Church has always understood—and so
Vatican I defined: “We therefore teach and declare that, according to the testi-
mony of the Gospel, the primacy of jurisdiction over the universal Church of God
was immediately an directly promised and given to Blessed Peter the Apostle
by Christ our Lord. […] And it was upon Simon Peter alone that Jesus after His
resurrection bestowed the jurisdiction of chief pastor and ruler over all His fold in
the words: “Feed My lambs; feed My sheep” (”Pastor Aeternus”, Chapter 1).

The primacy is a grace conferred on Peter and his successors, the popes; it is
one of the basic elements in the Church, designed to guard and protect its unity:
“In order that the episcopate also might be one and undivided, and that […] the
multitude of the faithful might be kept secure in the oneness of faith and com-
munion, He set Blessed Peter over the rest of the Apostles, and fixed in him the
abiding principle of this twofold unity, and its visible foundation” (”Pastor Aeternus,
Dz-Sch 3051”; cf. Vatican II, “Lumen Gentium”, 18). Therefore, the primacy of
Peter is perpetuated in each of his successors: this is something which Christ
disposed; it is not based on human legislation or custom.

By virtue of the primacy, Peter, and each of his successors, is the shepherd of
the whole Church and vicar of Christ on earth, because he exercises vicariously
Christ’s own authority. Love for the Pope, whom St. Catherine of Siena used to
call “the sweet Christ on earth”, should express itself in prayer, sacrifice and
obedience.

18-19. According to Tradition, St. Peter followed his Master to the point of dying
by crucifixion, head downwards, “Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom in Rome
during Nero’s persecution of Christians, which took place between the years 64
and 68. St. Clement, the successor of the same Peter in the See of the Church
of Rome, recalls this when, writing to the Corinthians, he puts before them ‘the
generous example of these two athletes’: ‘due to jealousy and envy, those who
were the principal and holiest columns suffered persecution and fought the fight
unto death’” (Paul VI, “Petrum Et Paulum”).

“Follow Me!”: these words would have reminded the Apostle of the first call he
received (cf. Matthew 4:19) and of the fact that Christ requires of His disciples
complete self-surrender: “If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself
and take up the Cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). St. Peter himself, in
one of his letters, also testifies to the Cross being something all Christians must
carry: “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:21).

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


 

Solemnity: St Peter and St Paul, Apostles

From: Acts 12:1-11

Persecution by Herod. Peter’s Arrest and Deliverance


[1] About that time Herod the king laid violent hands upon some who belonged to
the church. [2] He killed James the brother of John with the sword; [3] and when
he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was du-
ring the days of Unleavened Bread. [4] And when he had seized him, he put him
in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending af-
ter the Passover to bring him out to the people. [5] So Peter was kept in prison;
but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.[6] 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; [7] 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. [8] And the angel said to him,
“Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him,
“Wrap your mantle around you and follow me.” [9] 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. [10] 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 ac-
cord, and they went out and passed on through one street; and immediately the
angel left him. [11] 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.”

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

1-19. This is an account of persecution of the Church by Herod Agrippa (37-44),
which took place before the visit of Paul and Barnabas to the Holy City (cf. 11:
30).

The information given in this chapter about the latest persecution of the Jerusa-
lem community — more severe and more general than the earlier crises (cf. 5:17;
8:1) — gives an accurate picture of the situation in Palestine and describes events
in chronological sequence. Prior to this the Roman governors more or less protec-
ted the rights of the Jerusalem Christians. Now Agrippa, in his desire to ingratiate
himself with the Pharisees, abandons the Christians to the growing resentment
and hatred the Jewish authorities and people feel towards them.

This chapter brings to an end, so to speak, the story of the first Christian commu-
nity in Jerusalem. From now on, attention is concentrated on the church of Anti-
och. The last stage of the Palestinian Judeo-Christian church, under the direction
of James “the brother of the Lord”, will not experience the expansion enjoyed by
other churches, due to the grave turn which events take in the Holy Land.

1. This Herod is the third prince of that name to appear in the New Testament.
He was a grandson of Herod the Great, who built the new temple of Jerusalem
and was responsible for the massacre of the Holy Innocents (cf. Mt 2:16); he
was also a nephew of Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee at the time of our
Lord’s death. Herod Agrippa I was a favorite of the emperor Caligula, who gra-
dually gave him more territory and allowed him to use the title of king. Agrippa
I managed to extend his authority over all the territory his grandfather had ruled:
Roman governors had ruled Judea up to the year 41, but in that year it was gi-
ven over to Herod. He was a sophisticated type of person, a diplomat, so bent
on consolidating his power that he had became a master of intrigue and a total
opportunist. For largely political motives he practiced Judaism with a certain ri-
gor.

2. James the Greater would have been martyred in the year 42 or 43. He was
the first Apostle to die for the faith and the only one whose death is mentioned
in the New Testament. The Liturgy of the Hours says of him: “The son of Zebe-
dee and the brother of John, he was born in Bethsaida. He witnessed the princi-
pal miracles performed by our Lord and was put to death by Herod around the
year 42. He is held in special veneration in the city of Compostela, where a fa-
mous church is dedicated to his name.”

“The Lord permits this death,” Chrysostom observes, “to show his murderers
that these events do not cause the Christians to retreat or desist” (”Hom. on
Acts”, 26).

5. “Notice the feelings of the faithful towards their pastors. They do not riot or re-
bel; they have recourse to prayer, which can solve all problems. They do not say
to themselves: we do not count, there is no point in our praying for him. Their love
led them to pray and they did not think along those lines. Have you noticed what
these persecutors did without intending to? They made (their victims) more deter-
mined to stand the test, and (the faithful) more zealous and loving” (”Hom. on
Acts”, 26).

St Luke, whose Gospel reports our Lord’s words on perseverance in prayer (cf.
11:13; 18:1-8), here stresses that God listens to the whole community’s prayer
for Peter. He plans in his providence to save the Apostle for the benefit of the
Church, but he wants the outcome to be seen as an answer to the Church’s fer-
vent prayer.

7-10. The Lord comes to Peter’s help by sending an angel, who opens the prison
and leads him out. This miraculous freeing of the Apostle is similar to what hap-
pened at the time of Peter and John’s detention (5:19f) and when Paul and Silas
are imprisoned in Philippi (16:19ff).

This extraordinary event, which must be understood exactly as it is described,
shows the loving care God takes of those whom he entrusts with a mission.
They must strive to fulfill it, but they will “see” for themselves that he guides
their steps and watches over them.

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


 

From: 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18

The Crown of Righteousness


[6] For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has
come. [7] I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
[8] Henceforth 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.[17] For 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. [18]
The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly kingdom.
To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

6-8. Conscious of his closeness to death, St Paul writes in poetic strain about
his life in the service of the Gospel, about the meaning of death and his hope of
heaven. The imagery he uses shows how he interprets his experience in the
light of faith. “On the point of being sacrificed” — literally “poured out in sacrifice”
— death is an offering to God, like the libations of oil poured on the altar of sacri-
fices. Death is the beginning of a journey: “the point of my departure has come,”
the anchor is being weighed, the sails unfurled.

The Christian life is like magnificent Games taking place in the presence of God,
who acts as the judge. In Greece the Games had close connections with reli-
gious worship; St Paul presents the Christian life as a type of spiritual sport:
“races” indicates the continuous effort to achieve perfection (cf. Phil 3:14); trai-
ning for athletics indicates the practice of self-denial (cf. 1 Cor 9:26-27); fighting
stands for the effort required to resist sin even if that means death, as can hap-
pen in the event of persecution (cf. Heb 12:4). It is well worthwhile taking part in
this competition, because, as St John Chrysostom points out, “the crown which
it bestows never withers. It is not made of laurel leaves, it is not a man who pla-
ces it on our head, it has not been won in the presence of a crowd made up of
men, but in a stadium full of angels. In earthly competitions a man fights and
strives for days and the only reward he receives is a crown which withers in a
matter of hours [. . .]. That does not happen here: the crown he is given is a
glory and honor whose brilliance lasts forever (”Hom. on 2 Tim, ad loc”.).

All Christians who “have loved his appearing”, that is, who stay true to Christ,
share St Paul’s expectation of eternal life. “We who know about the eternal joys
of the heavenly fatherland should hasten to reach it by the more direct route”
(St Gregory the Great, “In Evangelia Homiliae”, 16).

9-18. In his letters St Paul often asks people to do things for him; his messa-
ges here are particularly moving, given as they are on the eve of his martyrdom.
He is following the example of Christ: he puts his trust in God even though his
friends desert him (vv. 10-12, 16); his enemies harass him more than ever, yet
he forgives them (vv. 14, 16); in the midst of his sufferings he praises the Lord (v.
18). His mention of Thessalonica, Galatia, Dalmatia, Ephesus, Troas, Corinth
and Miletus show how warmly he remembers places which were very receptive
to the Christian message. These few verses constitute a mini-biography.

His generosity of spirit is shown by the fact that he mentions so many disciples
by name; to all he gave of his best; some of them fell by the wayside but most
of them stayed faithful; some are mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles or in
other letters, but for others this is the only mention in the New Testament. How-
ever, all without exception must have been very present to the Apostle who be-
came “all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor 9:22).

16-17. St Paul points to the contrast between the way men treat him and the
way God does. Because of the hazards involved in staying with Paul or defen-
ding him, some of his friends, even some of his closest friends, have deserted
him; whereas God stays by his side.

“You seek the company of friends who, with their conversation and affection,
with their friendship, make the exile of this world more bearable for you. There
is nothing wrong with that, although friends sometimes let you down. But how
is it you don’t frequent daily with greater intensity the company, the conversa-
tion, of the great Friend, who never lets you down?” (St. J. Escriva, “The Way”,
88).

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.


 

From: Matthew 16:13-19

Peter’s Profession of Faith and His Primacy


[13] Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His
disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of Man is?” [14] And they said, “Some
say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the pro-
phets.” [15] He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” [16] Simon Peter
replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” [17] 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. [18] And I tell you, you are Peter, and on
this rock I will build My Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against
it. [19] 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.”*********************************************************************************************
Commentary:

13-20. In this passage St. Peter is promised primacy over the whole Church, a
primacy which Jesus will confer on him after His Resurrection, as we learn in the
Gospel of St. John (cf. John 21:15-18). This supreme authority is given to Peter
for the benefit of the Church. Because the Church has to last until the end of time,
this authority will be passed on to Peter’s successors down through history. The
Bishop of Rome, the Pope, is the successor of Peter.

The solemn Magisterium of the Church, in the First Vatican Council, defined the
doctrine of the primacy of Peter and his successors in these terms: “We teach
and declare, therefore, according to the testimony of the Gospel that the primacy
of jurisdiction over the whole Church was immediately and directly promised to
and conferred upon the blessed Apostle Peter by Christ the Lord. For to Simon,
Christ had said, ‘You shall be called Cephas’ (John 1:42). Then, after Simon had
acknowledged Christ with the confession, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the li-
ving God’ (Matthew 16:16), it was to Simon alone that the solemn words were
spoken by the Lord: ‘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 powers of Hell 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 what you loose on earth shall
be loosed in Heaven’ (Matthew 16:17-19). And after His Resurrection, Jesus con-
ferred upon Simon Peter alone the jurisdiction of supreme shepherd and ruler
over His whole fold with the words, ‘Feed My lambs….Feed My sheep’ (John 21:
15-17) […]

“Now, what Christ the Lord, Supreme Shepherd and watchful guardian of the
flock, established in the person of the blessed Apostle Peter for the perpetual
safety and everlasting good of the Church must, by the will of the same, endure
without interruption in the Church which was founded on the rock and which will
remain firm until the end of the world. Indeed, ‘no one doubts, in fact it is obvious
to all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, Prince and head of the Apos-
tles, the pillar of faith, and the foundation of the Catholic Church, received the
keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and the Redeemer
of the human race; and even to this time and forever he lives,’ and governs, ‘and
exercises judgment in his successors’ (cf. Council of Ephesus), the bishops
of the holy Roman See, which he established and consecrated with his blood.
Therefore, whoever succeeds Peter in this Chair holds Peter’s primacy over the
whole Church according to the plan of Christ Himself […]. For this reason, ‘be-
cause of its greater sovereignty,’ it was always ‘necessary for every church, that
is, the faithful who are everywhere, to be in agreement’ with the same Roman
Church […]

“We think it extremely necessary to assert solemnly the prerogative which the
only-begotten Son of God deigned to join to the highest pastoral office. “And so,
faithfully keeping to the tradition received from the beginning of the Christian faith,
for the glory of God our Savior, for the exaltation of the Catholic religion, and for
the salvation of Christian peoples, we, with the approval of the sacred council,
teach and define that it is a divinely revealed dogma: that the Roman Pontiff,
when he speaks “ex cathedra”, that is, when, acting in the office of shepherd
and teacher of all Christians, he defines, by virtue of his supreme apostolic au-
thority, doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the universal Church,
possesses through the divine assistance promised to him in the person of St.
Peter, the infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed His Church to be en-
dowed in defining doctrine concerning faith or morals; and that such definitions
of the Roman Pontiff are therefore irreformable because of their nature, but not
because of the agreement of the Church.”

*********************************************************************************************
Source: “The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries”. Biblical text from the
Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of
the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.

Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and
by Scepter Publishers in the United States.

Details

Date:
June 29
Event Categories:
, , ,