Scripture: Lectionary # 591. Acts 12:1-11. Psalm 34: 2-3.4-5.6-7.8-9. II
Timothy 4:6-8.17-18. Matthew 16: 13-19
Follow me! This is the invitation of Jesus to his apostles and to us. We
hear it in our prayers and experience it deep within our hearts as we open
ourselves to the living voice and presence of God in his Word (Scriptures
and Jesus) and the sacrament of the Real Presence, the Eucharist. We have
a great solemnity today and it is especially a great day of joy and glory
in Rome where both Peter and Paul gave their lives for the Gospel and for
having followed Jesus as his disciples and then as his apostles. The verb
for “follow” in the New Testament is always associated with discipleship–a
lesson learning formation and apostleship, a putting into action the
mission of Jesus as those who are sent (the verb sent is used for
Both of these roles were found in the two great saints we honor this day.
Both were supreme witnesses to Jesus by being martyred for him. But we
return to the living traditions about them handed in today’s readings where
we learn of Peter’s following of an angel who releases him from prison. He
is able to continue actively as one who is sent. His apostleship continues
on giving strength to the Church in Jerusalem. Then Paul in the selection
form First Tomothy relates his following of Jesus as a type of testament.
“I am already being poured out as a libation. The time of my dissolution is
at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have
kept the faith.”
We are edified by the lives of Peter and Paul and enegized to continue on
what they have started. We, too, are disciples (always learning more about
Jesus) and apostles (always being sent to console, to help, to feed, and to
instruct others). Peter helps us to always relate to Jesus as the Son of
the living God who is with us on our personal and communitarian journey.
We can accomplish much because of the graces and love that God gives us
through the Holy Spirit and through the living voice and real presence of
the Lord. Paul assures us that the Lord will stand by our side and give
us the strength to witness to Jesus by our lives and our generosity and
Our Psalm response and the whole of Psalm 34 is easily adapted to our
personal prayer after experiencing the liturgical action of the Eucharist
and the Word of God. “The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
“Taste and see how good the Lord is; happy are we who fear him and take
refuge in him.” Amen.