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Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Solemnity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles

Reading 1 (Acts 12:1-11)

In those days, King Herod laid hands upon some members of the Church to harm them.
He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword,
and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews
he proceeded to arrest Peter also.
"It was the feast of Unleavened Bread."
He had him taken into custody and put in prison
under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each.
He intended to bring him before the people after Passover.
Peter thus was being kept in prison,
but prayer by the Church was fervently being made
to God on his behalf.

On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial,
Peter, secured by double chains,
was sleeping between two soldiers,
while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison.
Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him
and a light shone in the cell.
He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying,
"Get up quickly."
The chains fell from his wrists.
The angel said to him, "Put on your belt and your sandals."
He did so.
Then he said to him, "Put on your cloak and follow me."
So he followed him out,
not realizing that what was happening through the angel was real;
he thought he was seeing a vision.
They passed the first guard, then the second,
and came to the iron gate leading out to the city,
which opened for them by itself.
They emerged and made their way down an alley,
and suddenly the angel left him.
Then Peter recovered his senses and said,
"Now I know for certain
that the Lord sent his angel
and rescued me from the hand of Herod
and from all that the Jewish people had been expecting."

Reading 2 (1 Tim 4:6-8, 17-18)

I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation,
and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well; I have finished the race;
I have kept the faith.
From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me,
which the Lord, the just judge,
will award to me on that day, and not only to me,
but to all who have longed for his appearance.

The Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation might be completed
and all the Gentiles might hear it.
And I was rescued from the lion's mouth.
The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat
and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom.
To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Gospel (Mt 16:13-19)

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
"Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply,
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
 


 

I. THEME: Be a loyal witness for God until the end.

            The early Church was firmly built upon the two poles, Peter and Paul, because if it was built only up on one pole, it would not be firm, as a person stands in one foot. Peter preached to the Jews, Paul preached to the Gentiles. Peter organized and protected the Church, Paul developed and extended the Church.

            Today readings emphasize God’s selection, protection and bestowing of grace for both of them. In the first reading, the author of the Acts reported the miracle in which God liberated Peter from prison. Peter only knew that he was set free when the angel left him. In the second reading, Paul confirmed that by God’s power, he has competed well; has finished the race; and has kept the faith. In the Gospel, after Peter was enlightened by God to recognize and to proclaim his faith in Christ, Jesus officially established the Church on the foundation of Peter; and he has promised to protect the Church against all worldly and devilish powers.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The angel liberated Peter from prison.

1.1/ The Church was persecuted: Jesus forewarned his disciples that “Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No slave is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (Jn 15:20). After Jesus’ ascension, the Jerusalem Church was greatly persecuted, beginning with the first martyr of the deacon Stephen. Today passage reported king Herode’s persecution as follows: “About that time King Herod laid hands upon some members of the church to harm them.He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword,and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter also. It was the feast of Unleavened Bread.He had him taken into custody and put in prison under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. He intended to bring him before the people after Passover.”

            Jesus said to his disciples: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed” (Mt 26:31). Peter, James and John were considered as Jesus’ closed apostles; and now James was killed, Peter was imprisoned. Therefore, the Church was fervently praying to God on his behalf.

1.2/ The angel liberated Peter from prison: Christ knew that sufferings by persecution and prison are necessary to train the apostles’ faith and to extend faith, so he let persecution happen. But he also knew that his Church needs Peter’s leadership, so he sent an angel to liberate him out of the prison, as he shall do the same with Paul later.

            (1) The chains and the soldiers are ineffective before God’s power: The Acts reported: “On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter, secured by double chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison.Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying, "Get up quickly." The chains fell from his wrists.”

            (2) Peter unconsciously do everything as the angel commanded: “The angel said to him, "Put on your belt and your sandals." He did so. Then he said to him, "Put on your cloak and follow me."So he followed him out, not realizing that what was happening through the angel was real; he thought he was seeing a vision.They passed the first guard, then the second, and came to the iron gate leading out to the city, which opened for them by itself. They emerged and made their way down an alley, and suddenly the angel left him.” All these things happened when the soldiers were guarding and the prison doors were locking.

            (3) Peter consciously knew that he was set free: “Then Peter recovered his senses and said, "Now I know for certain that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people had been expecting.”” When God wants, He rendered ineffective all worldly powers.

2/ Reading II: The crown of righteousness awaits me.

2.1/ Fighting for the ideal goal: Like Jesus, when he is going to leave this world to go back to God, he spent sometimes to review what he did; to survey what is going to happen; and the glory he shall achieve in the future (cf. Jn 17). St. Paul also spent sometimes to review his life in this passage.

            (1) Review the past: Paul said: "I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith."

            + “I have competed well”: The world is a battle field to test people’s faith. Look back at the past, Paul knew that he tried the best to overcome all sufferings and to fulfill the mission which Christ gave it to him. Paul can proudly say: “I have competed well.”

            + “I have finished the race”: Life can be compared with a marathon which has an origin from Greek. This is a lengthy running race which requires a runner to have a healthy condition to finish. Many people who register, not to aim at the reward, but only to see if they have healthy condition to finish the race. Many people can’t finish the race.

            God let us enter this world to run the race of our life and He waits for us at the finished line. Many people can’t finish the race and ended their life earlier than it should be due to many reasons.

            + “I have kept the faith”: This is the condition to get the reward from Christ. If anyone finishes the race, but lost his faith, he shall not receive the reward.

            (2) Survey the present: Paul knew that what is going to happen for him. He says: "For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand." Christ appeared to Paul and let him know that he shall be seized by the Jews at Jerusalem to be a witness for him. Not only that, Paul shall also witness for him at Rome. Many faithful wept and prevented him to go to Jerusalem, but he courageously went to Jerusalem to be persecuted as Christ did.

            (3) Hope in the future: People fight for a purpose. Like an athlete who wins the marathon race and is given a victorious wreath, Paul expects that he shall have a similar victorious wreath. He said: “From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day.” Paul used his personal experience to encourage his disciples, “and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.” If Timothy, Titus, or any faithful who is loyal to keep his faith until the end, he shall receive the same reward from Christ.

2.2/ Paul could conquer all things by God’s power: He knew his weaknesses, especially through the Damascus event in which he was fallen from the horse and blinded; but he also knew God’s strength at work to support his weaknesses. Paul confirmed this faith many times in his writings, and repeated in today passage, “But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was rescued from the lion's mouth.The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom.”

3/ Gospel: “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.”

3.1/ The disciples must know well about his master:

            (1) Knowledge about Christ: When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."

            King Herode thought that Jesus is John Baptist who comes alive from death. Elijah is a prophet who worked many miracles as Christ. The Jewish tradition believes Elijah shall come back before the Messiah’s coming because he didn’t die. Jeremiah is a very courageous prophet who talked and witnessed for the truth without fear of any power. All these characters can describe some Christ’s qualities, but not his true identity.

            (2) The relationship between a disciple and Christ: Jesus wasn’t pleased with his disciples’ knowledge of him through others; he wanted to know what they think of him, so he asked them: "But who do you say that I am?"Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."

            This is the answer which Jesus wanted to hear. He is the Messiah whom the prophet foretold; at the same time, he is also the only son of the living God. Only when Jesus heard this declaration from his disciples, he fulfilled his mission of revelation.

3.2/ The Church is built on the foundation of Peter: Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” St. Paul explained this point clearer: None can declare that Christ is God without the Holy Spirit’s guidance. The Holy Spirit is sent to the apostles by Jesus’ intercession with the Father.

            Recognizing Peter’s true faith, Jesus established the Church when he said to Peter: “And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” In Scripture, when God changes someone’s name, He believes and gives a mission to thet person. For examples, Abraham from Abram; Paul from Saul; Peter from Simon; etc. Christ wanted to give the right of leading the Church for Peter and his successors. The rock here isn’t Peter’s weakness with his three times of denying Jesus; but it is his firm faith in Christ after many times of failures and sufferings.

            The Church’s faith is based on the foundation of the apostles’ faith. This faith is liken as the “rock,” which means firm and not changes with time. Many people criticize the Church old-fashion, firm, not changing according to time, etc. But it is this very reason which the Church is established. If the Church also changes so that people will accept, compromises and yields before worldly and devil pressures, the Church shall not remain till today.

            Jesus gave the key of the heaven kingdom to signify the right to hold and to forgive people’s sins: "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." The function of a key is to open and to lock up, to give permission to enter or to deny. The Church uses this right to forgive or to hold people’s sins in the sacrament of Reconciliation.

           

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - Christ needs both Peter and Paul. He wanted both of them to work together to confirm, to protect and to develop the Church. We must co-operate with others in extending God’s kingdom.

            - In order to work for Christ and to protect the Church, we must not only know Christ but also live our relationship with him.

            - The Church isn’t only the Pope and his priestly members, but all the faithful in everywhere. All the faithful have a duty in protection and expansion of God’s kingdom.

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