Memory of the apostles

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Feast of the Saint Apostles Peter and Paul
Feast of the Saint Apostles Peter and Paul, martyrs in Rome around the years 60-70. Memorial of blessed Raymond Lull (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, in particular of the Roman Church, where they witnessed to their faith till martyrdom. Jesus called Peter while he was mending his nets along the shores of the Sea of Galilee. As soon as Jesus called him to a greater life and to fish for people, not fish, he "immediately left his nets and followed him," says the evangelist. We find him among the Twelve. Peter felt steady and certain of himself, and yet, the night of Jesus' arrest, it only took a servant woman to lead him to betrayal. And when, that night, he crossed Jesus' eyes filled with tenderness, he wept and understood that his strength was only in that face. The true Peter - the disciple to whom Jesus entrusts his flock -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." The Lord made of Peter's weakness the "rock" of the spiritual building to which we all belong.
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 combatant against the young Christian community, and was even authorized to persecute it. But on the road to Damascus, the Lord threw him down from the horse of self-assuredness and pride. This time, like Peter after his betrayal, Paul felt his heart touched. Tears did not flow from his eyes, but they were blinded. Once he was used to leading others, and now he had to be taken by the hand and led to Damascus. There, he heard the Gospel preached to him by the old Ananias. The words of this brother touched his heart; Paul opened his eye and started preaching the Gospel of Jesus, first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. Paul left the usual borders of the first community and made the Gospel mission universal.
The Church has remembered them together, as if to hold both of their precious testimonies together in unity. With their different gifts and charisms, both marked one Church of Christ and especially the Church of Rome, which as the Fathers said presides in charity. Their characteristics are a part of the faith and life of the Church of Rome, of our own faith, of the faith of the Community of Sant'Egidio that is fully marked by their charism. We remember affectionately what St. John Paul II said to us: "Wherever you go, you are always from Rome," as if to underline a faith that breaths with the spirit of these two witnesses everywhere: the humble and steadfast faith of Peter and with the out-stretched, universal heart of Paul.