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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Feast of the Saint Apostles Peter and Paul, martyrs in Rome around the years 60-70. Memorial of blessed Raymond Lullo (1235-1316). A Catalan close to the spirit of Saint Francis he loved the Muslims and promoted dialogue among believers.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If we die with him, we shall live with him,
if with him we endure, with him we shall reign.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 16, 13-20

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of man is?'

And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'

'But you,' he said, 'who do you say I am?'

Then Simon Peter spoke up and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'

Jesus replied, 'Simon son of Jonah, you are a blessed man! Because it was no human agency that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven.

So I now say to you: You are Peter and on this rock I will build my community. And the gates of the underworld can never overpower it.

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven: whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.'

Then he gave the disciples strict orders not to say to anyone that he was the Christ.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

If we die with him, we shall live with him,
if with him we endure, with him we shall reign.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Today we celebrate the feast of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, a memory that accompanies the almost two thousand year story of the Church. Tradition holds that Peter and Paul died as martyrs on the same day, June 29, between the years 64 and 68. Peter was crucified on the Vatican Hill, perhaps in the place where the church of Saint Peter in Montorio now stands, and was buried in the cemetery next to the Circus of Nero where today is the basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican. Paul, who was beheaded at the Three Fountains (Tre Fontane), was buried in a tomb near the Via Ostiense, where today there is the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls. Peter and Paul are called “the pillars of the Church”, in particular of the Roman Church that not only venerates them as saints but also retains the glory of having them as the foundation of her spiritual building. The ancient Christian writer Tertullian points out that Peter and Paul gave Rome their doctrine along with their blood. We can then sing, united to the Church of the East (which celebrates them immediately after Christmas) “Praise be to Peter and Paul, the two great lights of the Church; they shine in the firmament of faith.” They not only shine in the sky of Rome, but also in the hearts of believers who retain their preaching and guard the precious testimony of a faith lived to the shedding of blood. The faith of these two martyrs founded the Church of Rome, and it is on this faith that rests our poor, fragile and weak faith of Christians of the last hour. Their image is in front of us because we remember their example as we read in the Letter to the Hebrews: “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (12:4). Peter and Paul resisted until the shedding of blood.
They return to us again today and preach with their words and their very lives. Matthew writes that the Lord called the twelve disciples and sent them out two by two. In this way, two of them, Peter and Paul, were sent all the way to Rome, to preach the Gospel. They were two men who were very different from each other: the first “a humble fisherman from Galilee” and the second “a teacher and doctor of the Law,” as we sang in the preface of today’s Holy Liturgy. Even their lives as believers were different. Jesus called Peter while he was mending his nets along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. He was a simple fisherman who worked honestly and hard. However, his soul was restless; his life always seemed to be the same, and he felt a desire for a new world where charity was not rare and indifference and enmity were vanquished. As soon as the young teacher from Nazareth called him to a greater life and to fish for people, not fish, he immediately left his nets and followed him. We find him among the Twelve, with a temperament typical of a fiery and self-assured man, and yet it only took a servant woman to lead him to betrayal. The true Peter is the one who is weak, who lets the Spirit of God touch him, and who is the first to proclaim, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16) as we heard in the Gospel. The Lord made of Peter’s weakness the “rock” that would confirm his brothers and sisters.
We see Paul as a young man standing near those who are stoning Stephen. He was guarding the cloaks of those who were casting the stones. He was a zealous young combatant against the young Christian community, and was even authorized to persecute it beyond Jerusalem. But on the road to Damascus, the Lord threw him down from the horse of self-assuredness and pride, which was much more stubborn than the horse he was riding. Finding himself face down in the dust, he looked up to heaven and saw the Lord. This time, like Peter after his betrayal, Paul felt his heart touched. Tears did not flow from his eyes, but they were blinded and he was no longer able to see. Once he was used to leading others, and now he had to be taken by the hand and led to Damascus. There, the Gospel preached by Ananias opened his heart and his eyes. Paul preached, first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles, and he found many communities. At the end of his life he wrote about his mission. “But the Lord stood by me,” he writes to Timothy, “and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and save me for his heavenly kingdom “(2 Tim 4: 17-18).
From the beginning, the Church has remembered them together, as if to hold both of their testimonies together in unity. With their different gifts and charisms, both founded one Church of Christ. Their characteristics, in a certain way, are a part of the faith and life of the Church and, I would like to say, of our faith. We cannot be Christians in a plain, identical way. Our faith ought to breathe with the spirit of these two witnesses, with the humble and steadfast faith of Peter and with the out-stretched, universal heart of Paul. Every believer and every Church ought not to live for itself, but for the Gospel, and, if anything, this obligation is even stronger for the Church in Rome and for all of its members. Today, the apostles Peter and Paul return to sit among us and to exhort us not to close in on ourselves, not to think exclusively of our problems, even if they are religious ones, but to feel the urgency of confirming the faith of our brothers and sisters and going out to announce the Gospel to those who have yet to receive it.

Memory of the Apostles

Calendar of the week
Sunday, 22 October
Liturgy of the Sunday
Monday, 23 October
Memory of the Poor
Tuesday, 24 October
Memory of the Mother of the Lord
Wednesday, 25 October
Memory of the Saints and the Prophets
Thursday, 26 October
Memory of the Church
Friday, 27 October
Memory of Jesus crucified
Saturday, 28 October
Memory of the Apostles
Sunday, 29 October
Liturgy of the Sunday