Today we salute the two great pillars of the early Church
Reflections on the readings for the Solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul (June 29, 2020): ACTS 12:1-11; PS 34:2-3,4-5,6-7,8-9; 2 TM 4:6-8,17-18; MT 16:13-19
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
Peter the Rock, and Paul the greatest missionary of the early Church.
“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 hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:17-19). These words are part of one of the best-known scenes in the Gospel, especially to Catholics. Jesus had just asked His Apostles to tell Him who they thought He truly was. It was Simon Peter who answered, saying that Jesus was not only the Christ, but also the Son of God. And our Lord responded by calling Peter the Rock of His Church and granting him the keys to His Kingdom. This fisherman of Galilee is the same man who was often emotional and impetuous. He boldly announced his willingness to die with Christ, but hours later pretended not to know Him. Yet he was loved and trusted by Jesus, and Peter, in turn, loved and followed Him – even to death on a cross. Before his martyrdom in Rome in the mid-60s A.D., St. Peter ably led the growing Christian community as it grew among Jews and, in large thanks to St. Paul, among more and more Gentiles.
As early as the Third Century this feast has jointly celebrated St. Peter and St. Paul. Originally called Saul, he was a tentmaker by trade and a zealous Pharisee who persecuted the earliest Christians. He witnessed the stoning of St. Stephen, the first martyr and sought the arrest of many others. On one such journey to Damascus, a great light blinded him and he fell off his horse. Saul heard the voice of Jesus accusing him of persecuting Him. From that time, the new Christian Paul set about serving our Lord and proclaiming His message throughout the Mediterranean area. With his preaching and writing, he converted many, especially Gentiles, into disciples of Jesus. Paul was the greatest missionary of the early Church. He, too, died in Rome, a few years after his friend Peter. These two men had such a huge and lasting influence on the first decades of the Christian Church that it is appropriate to honor their faithful service to our Savior and His people together on this day.