- First reading: Acts 12:1-11
- Psalm 33 – From all my terrors the Lord set me free
- Second reading: 2Tm 4:6-8.17-18
- Gospel: Mt 16:13-19
…« But you, who do you say I am? » (Mt 16:15)
Today we celebrate two great apostles: St. Peter and St. Paul.
Peter, a fisherman, was called by Jesus on the shore of the lake of Galilee to be “fisher of people” (Cfr. Mt 4:19). He follows the Master with a wholehearted commitment, leaving everything behind, because he recognises that Jesus alone has “words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68).
Peter is also the one to whom the Holy Spirit suggests the true identity of Jesus: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16).
Ready to give his life for the Lord, he unexpectedly finds himself weak: when his own life is threatened, he denies to know Jesus, his Master and friend. However, this bitter experience of failure becomes the turning point of his discipleship: the risen Lord forgives him and entrusts to him the God’s “flock” (Cfr. Jn: 21:15-17).
Peter is appointed by Jesus as the head of the Church: “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church” (Mt 16:18), “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 16:19). Peter was the first Pope of the Church and during the centuries, all the Popes that succeeded him are linked to him by what is called Apostolic Succession.
St. Paul, instead, is initially depicted in the Scriptures as a zealous Jew. He was persecuting the early Christian community, when he had a personal encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5). His life is turned upside-down as he realises that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the One the Jewish people was waiting and longing for. He is also led from blindness to the true Light by the Church of Damascus.
The most amazing is that, as he was a zealous Jew, so he is now a fervent preacher of the Good News to Hebrews and Gentiles alike. “The Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear” (2 Tm 4:17).
Today’s reading from the Gospel (Mt 16: 13-19) is well known as Peter’s profession of faith.
It draws our attention on how the apostle’s heart should be: what does really make a disciple dedicate his life to Jesus? Why does an apostle devote his life to the preaching of the Gospel?
The Lord asks to his disciples: “But you, who do you say I am?”.
He asks me too: who do you say I am?
This is not just what I know or I learnt about Him, but what experience I had of Him in my life. Who is He to me? How did He reveal himself to me?
My life will be committed to Christ in the measure that I realise who He is, how much He loves me and how He gave himself for me.
Who are You to me?
Who am I to You?
Almighty, ever-living God,
you give us the great joy of devoting this day
to the honour of the apostles Peter and Paul.
Grant that your Church
may follow their teaching to the full,
because these are the men
who first taught us to worship you in Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. Amen