Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:
June 29, A.D. 2008
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Psalm 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18
A reflection on today's Scripture:
This year we observe the two thousandth anniversary of the birth of the great Apostle Paul. He was born in Tarsus in present-day Turkey. Pope Benedict XVI has declared this to be the Year of St. Paul beginning with the Vigil of today's Feast, June 28, 2008, and ending on June 29, 2009. All throughout the year, Catholics who make a pilgrimage to the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome may receive a plenary indulgence. Those who are impeded for a serious reason from going to Rome may still obtain the indulgence (consult your parish for details). This beautiful church of St. Paul Outside the Walls contains the tomb of St. Paul who was beheaded around the year 65 A.D.
The readings for the feast are concerned with both St. Peter and St. Paul. In the reading from Acts 12, we hear that King Herod, after killing St. James, the brother of St. John, by the sword, arrested St. Peter, threw him in prison in double chains, and had him guarded there with a large cohort of soldiers. In the middle of the night, the chains dropped from him, and he walked out on his own to freedom.
Why such direct divine intervention?
Because, as today's Gospel from Matthew narrates, Peter, under divine inspiration, declared Christ to be God's Son and Savior of the World. Then came Jesus' appointment of Peter, "You are Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." The passage concludes with Jesus conferring on Peter the "keys of the kingdom," with its accompanying power to absolve sin or to keep that person "bound" by his sin. Two other readings this weekend recount Peter's cure of the crippled man at the gates of the Temple (Acts 3) and the dramatic test that Jesus gave Peter right after the Resurrection, asking Peter three times if he loved Him (Gospel for the Vigil).
The readings for St. Paul give us a sample of how St. Paul defended his credentials for preaching the Gospel (Galatians 1). In this letter, he declares that his own teaching is not from human origin, but has come by direct revelation from heaven. The reading for the Feast gives us a portion of Paul's farewell to Timothy from the Roman prison at the end of his life. He declares to Timothy that he has kept the faith, and run the race, and now expects an eternity with the Lord in heaven.
Paul of Tarsus was completely different from Peter. Peter, impetuous and generous, was an uneducated fisherman, while Paul was a "city boy" and somewhat of an introvert. He became a zealous Pharisee, tremendously learned in Jewish law, but an outsider, and a Roman citizen. Peter was the main authority figure in the early Church, while Paul was the brilliant catechist who developed the "theology" of the early Church and the missionary apostle who evangelized the eastern Mediterranean. Pilgrims today can walk in the footsteps of St. Paul, following the path of three separate missionary journeys.
We honor both St. Peter and St. Paul by imitating their generous faith, and their love and total commitment to the crucified and risen Jesus.
- Msgr. Paul Whitmore |
email: pwhitmore29 (at) yahoo (dot) com
Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
Lives of the saints:
Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:
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