Reflections

SS. PETER AND PAUL, MONDAY, JUNE 29, 2020

PETER THE LEADERPAUL THE PREACHER
Greeting (cf. Second Reading)
May the Lord stand by you
and give you power.
May he rescue you from all evil
and bring you safely to his kingdom.
May he always be with you. R/ And also with you.

Introduction
Today we celebrate with joy the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. They are the two pillars on whom our Lord built his Church and to whom he entrusted the faith. Their own faith had been tested, when Peter denied Christ and Paul persecuted Christ in his disciples. Then their faith was strengthened and they dedicated their whole life to the spread of the gospel. We can learn from them today how to let Christ possess us so much that we live for him and his Church and are even willing to suffer for that faith. Let us give thanks today to the Lord for giving us these great apostles.

Penitential Act
We accept the faith of the apostles
but do we really live that faith?
Let us examine ourselves before the Lord.

(pause)

When we show little interest
in the struggles of the Church in today’s world,
Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy.
When we criticize the Church too easily
and do little to make it better,
Christ, have mercy. R/ Christ, have mercy.
When we try to use the Church to serve us
rather than serving the Church,
Lord, have mercy. R/ Lord, have mercy.
Have mercy on us, Lord,
and forgive us all our sins.
Make us, your Church,
a true community of faith and love
and lead us to everlasting life. R/ Amen.

Opening Prayer
United in faith with Peter and Paul,
let us pray to God for fidelity and zeal

(pause)

Lord our God, we thank you today
for your apostles Peter and Paul.
Give us their faith and fidelity,
that we may build among us,
as a community of faith and love,
the Church for which they lived and died.
Give us their conviction and courage
to let the whole world share in the Good News
of your Son Jesus Christ,
that he may be everything to all,
now and for ever. R/ Amen.

First Reading: The Gospel Cannot Be Chained
Peter is imprisoned for preaching Christ’s liberating message. While the young Church prays for Peter, God frees his faithful apostle, for the gospel cannot be chained.

First Reading: Acts 12:1-11
About that time King Herod decided to persecute some members of the Church. He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword, and when he saw how it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This happened during the festival of the Unleavened Bread. Herod had him seized and thrown into prison with four squads, each of four soldiers, to guard him. He wanted to bring him to trial before the people after the Passover feast, but while Peter was kept in prison, the whole Church prayed earnestly for him. On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound by a double chain, while guards kept watch at the gate of the prison. Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood there and a light shone in the prison cell. The angel tapped Peter on the side and woke him saying, “Get up quickly!” At once the chains fell from Peter’s wrists. The angel said, “Put on your belt and your sandals.” Peter did so, and the angel added, “Now, put on your cloak and follow me.” Peter followed him out; yet he did not realize that what was happening with the angel was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first guard and then the second and they came to the iron door leading out to the city, which opened of itself for them. They went out and made their way down a narrow alley, when suddenly the angel left him. Then Peter recovered his senses and said, “Now I know that the Lord has sent his angel and has rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from all that the Jews had in store for me.”

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

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

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 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

Second Reading: An Apostle Faithful to the Faithful Lord
At the end of his life Paul can testify that he has been a faithful witness to the Lord who has been faithful to him and given him strength. Now he looks forward to encountering the Lord for ever.

Second Reading: 2 Tim 4;6-8, 17-18
As for me, Paul, the time of sacrifice has arrived, and the moment of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness with which the Lord, the just judge, will reward me on that day; and not only me, but all those who have longed for his glorious coming. But the Lord was at my side, giving me strength to proclaim the Word fully, and let all the pagans hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will save me from all evil, bringing me to his heavenly kingdom. Glory to him for ever and ever. Amen!

Gospel: Peter, the Rock
Peter, the man of faith who acknowledges Christ as the Messiah, is made the rock on which the Lord builds his Church, which he will never abandon. Peter is for the Church the center of faith, authority and unity.

Gospel Reading: Matthew 16:13-19
Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi. He asked his disciples, “What do people say of the Son of Man? Who do they say I am?” They said, “For some of them you are John the Baptist, for others Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Jesus asked them, “But you, who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “It is well for you, Simon Barjona, for it is not flesh or blood that has revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. And now I say to you: You are Peter (or Rock) and on this rock I will build my Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and what you unbind on earth shall be unbound in heaven.”

Intercessions
Today let us pray for the Church, the People of God on the march, that we may truly be the Church of Christ. Let us say:
R/ Lord, remember your Church.

– For the Church in our time, that the Holy Spirit may guide it through the present pains of renewal, keep it faithful to the gospel and inspire it to speak its message in the language of our time, let us pray:
R/ Lord, remember your Church.
– For the Pope, Peter’s successor, that he may be our rock of faith and the sign of unity in the Church, let us pray:
R/ Lord, remember your Church.
– For our bishops, that they may exercise their authority as a service to building community; for priests and religious, that they may bear witness to what they preach by their way of living the gospel, let us pray:
R/ Lord, remember your Church.
– For missionaries, that they may proclaim the gospel as Good News to all and that they may help each people and culture to encounter Christ each in its own way, let us pray:
R/ Lord, remember your Church.
– For all Christians, that they may have compassionate hearts, open to all who suffer and are in need, to bring them healing and help, let us pray:
R/ Lord, remember your Church.
– For us here present and for all Christian communities, that we may build up one another in faith and love, let us pray:
R/ Lord, remember your Church.

God our Father, your Son promised to be with his Church until the end of time. Let him stay with us always for he is our Lord for ever. R/ Amen.

Prayer over the Gifts
Lord our God,
in these signs of bread and wine
you are about to give us Jesus, your Son.
Make us aware
that you let him come among us
not to keep him to ourselves
as a prized possession,
but, like your apostles Peter and Paul,
to take him to all people far and near.
Make your Son recognizable in us,
that all people may praise you.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. R/ Amen.

Introduction to the Eucharistic Prayer
With the whole Church of Peter and Paul, with all who are strengthened and united by their faith and with all who are inspired by their missionary zeal, we now join in the sacrifice of our one Lord Jesus Christ.

Invitation to the Lord’s Prayer
Concerned, with Peter and Paul,
to make God’s kingdom come to all the world,
we now pray Jesus’ prayer to the Father: R/ Our Father…

Deliver Us
Deliver your Church, Lord, from every evil
and grant it freedom and peace.
Help us to build up together,
a community of faith and love,
in which people can recognize the face
of him for whose return in glory
we wait in joyful hope,
our Saviour Jesus Christ. R/ For the kingdom…

Invitation to Communion
This is Christ,
the Son of the living God,
who has the words of eternal life.
To whom else should we go?
Happy are we to be invited
to the table of the Lord. R/ Lord, I am not worthy…

Prayer after Communion
Lord our God, in Peter and Paul,
two pillars of your Church,
you have exemplified two characteristics
of the body of your Son:
fidelity to the living tradition
and to missionary dynamism.
Let the Spirit of Jesus stay with us
to give always room for both,
that in the diversity of gifts
we may all be united
in one loyalty and one faith,
in Jesus Christ, our Lord. R/ Amen.

Commentary
Today we celebrate the memories of Peter and Paul, two foundational pillars of the Church, who are men with strange histories as well. One denied Jesus three times; the other persecuted God’s own people. Jesus’s founding the Church on them is a vote of confidence, love, and trust in them; and a reminder to us that it is not our merits that make us members of his Church, but the sheer grace of God, and that it is the Spirit that leads the Church, and not any human power or perfection.
These are days when our Mother Church has been rocked by many scandals, and we are out there frantically taking measures to clean it up with “zero tolerance.” But in our zealous drive to cleanse the Church of every fallibility, let us not forget that both the sinning and the sinned against deserve our justice and compassion so that neither of them will be lost. For, all are God’s people, and Christ would not want to lose any one of them (Jn 6:39).
Today is also the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Mary’s “pondering in her heart” could surely the headline for Christian contemplation.

Blessing
Let us ask for God’s blessing,
that we may be the Church of Peter,
firm in the faith, built on rock,
united as the one body of Christ
which cannot be overcome.
May we also be the Church of Paul,
dynamic, without boundaries,
restless until Christ is known to all.
May God bless you and this one Church:
the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. R/ Amen.
Let us go and be to the whole world the body of the Lord. R/ Thanks be to God.

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