TODAY’S FEAST IS A CELEBRATION OF THE TRANSFORMED LIVES EXPERIENCED BY PETER AND PAUL
(A biblical reflection on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles – Wednesday, 29 June 2022)
First Reading: Acts 12:1-11
Psalms: Psalm 34:2-9, Second Reading: 2Timothy 4:6-8,17-18; Gospel Reading: Matthew 16:13-19
The Scripture Text
About that time Herod the king laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword; and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison; 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. And the angel said to him, “Wrap your mantle around you and follow me.” 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. When they had passed the first sand the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened to them of its own accord, and they went out and passed on through one street; and immediately the angel left him. 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.”(Acts 12:1-11 RSV)
If someone were to ask you what difference Jesus’ death made, what would you say? That we can now be transformed into a new creation? That we can be filled with the character of Jesus Christ? Today’s feast is a celebration of this transformed life. Consider the following: Peter was changed from an impulsive and boastful fisherman into a compassionate shepherd and faithful servant. Paul was transformed from a dedicated but stiff-necked religious leader into an itinerant preacher consumed with proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. Both men worked miracles, confounded kings, and stirred thousands of hearts – all because they came in contact with Jesus Christ.
Are their experiences normal? Yes! Each of us can experience the same radical transformation that Peter and Paul knew. God may not call us to confront world leaders or to raise the dead, but the same basic experience that impelled their ministries is the inheritance of every child of God. Not only can we experience this transformation, we should expect it as a vital part of our heritage in Christ. Determination, courage, or talent did not change Peter and Paul. In fact, Scripture is quick to point out the weaknesses and faults of these two mighty apostles. No, their transformations hinged on Jesus.
God wants us to know that it was the Holy Spirit who changed these men. And this same Spirit can – and wants to – change us. God did not send His Son into the world to condemn us, but to save us (Jn 3:17). Jesus came to free us from all that binds us to sin and failure and to give us the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome sin and temptation. The Holy Spirit wants to teach us who Jesus is by making Him alive in our hearts and minds. The Holy Spirit wants to explain to us the mysteries of god so that we can grow in knowledge of the Gospel.
In every prayer time, at every Mass, in every encounter with another person, pursue Jesus. He wants to meet us even more than we want to meet Him! Through the power of the Holy Spirit, He can make us into His faithful servants, just as He did Peter and Paul.
Prayer: Heavenly father, You send the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name to teach me and remind me of everything about Jesus. Today, may I rise up and claim my inheritance in Christ. Amen.
Jakarta, 28 June 2022
A Christian Pilgrim