MATTHEW 16:18-19 (Today’s Gospel Reading: Matthew 16:13-19)

Jakarta, 29 June 2022 [Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles]

A Christian Pilgrim


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(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


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(A biblical reflection on the Solemnity of SAINTS PETER AND PAUL, APOSTLES – Tuesday, 29 June 2021)

Gospel Reading: Matthew 16:13-19

First Reading: Acts 12:1-11; Psalms: Psalm 34:2-9, Second Reading: 2Timothy 4:6-8,17-18

The Scripture Text

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My Church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-19 RSV)

On this feast day, we celebrate the two main pillars of the early Church, Peter and Paul. These men represent two vital aspects of Christianity, both in its corporate and individual dimensions – the pastoral and the missionary. From the first Pentecost, Peter’s leadership of the Church was evident. Peter moved from Jerusalem to Antioch to Rome, where for two thousand years his successors have continued to offer a dynamic link to Jesus’ desire to build His Church.

The touchstone of Peter’s faith and the bedrock of his role as leader was his confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). This is the very faith that Paul celebrated when he said, “No other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1Corinthians 3:11). Though Paul was among the last to be called an apostle, it could well be argued that it was he who developed the doctrines of faith that became the basis for our creed and continue to define the Church to this day.

The universal Church speaks with one voice when it declares “Jesus is Lord!” These two saints, Peter and Paul, have made it clear that our faith is not meant to be an individual, isolated thing. It’s not just “me and Jesus.” It’s “Christ and His Church.” God never wanted us to live in isolation from each other. He never intended Christianity to be an individual experience. He gave a corporate dimension to our faith so that our experience of life in the Spirit would be spurred on in power and supported in hope by the faithful witness of so many other believers.

By faith we are saved, and this faith is a gift given from our Father in heaven. Through the Church, let us make known the manifold wisdom of God. We too are called to be pillars of the Church. We too are called to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord. As we take up our calling and profess the Lordship of Christ, we too participate in building up the Church that so long ago was begun by Peter and ignited by Paul.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for calling me to be one of Your disciples. May I ever proclaim Your Lordship in fellowship with all Your people. Amen.

Jakarta, 28 June 2021

A Christian Pilgrim


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