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Liturgical day: June 29th: Sts. Peter & Paul, apostles

Gospel text (Mt 16,13-19): Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi. He asked his disciples, «Who do people say the Son of Man is?». They said, «For some of them you are John the Baptist, for others Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the prophets». Jesus asked them, «But you, who do you say I am?». Peter answered, «You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God». Jesus replied, «It is well for you, Simon Barjona, for it is not flesh or blood that has revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. And now I say to you: You are Peter (or Rock) and on this rock I will build my Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and what you unbind on earth shall be unbound in heaven».

«You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God»

Mons. Jaume PUJOL i Balcells Archbishop of Tarragona and Primate of Catalonia
(Tarragona, Spain)

Today we celebrate the solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul, who were basic for the early Church and, therefore, for our Christian faith. Apostles of the Lord, witnesses of the first hour, they lived those initial moments of expansion of the Church and sealed with their blood their loyalty to Jesus. Let us hope that we, Christians of the 21st century, also know how to be reliable witnesses of the love of God in the midst of men, as these two Apostles were, along with so many others of our fellow citizens.

In one of his first interventions addressing the Cardinals, Pope Francis told them that we must 'walk, build and confess'. That is, we must move forward in our way of life, by building up our Church and by confessing the Lord. But the Pope warned: "we can walk as much as we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail. We will become a compassionate NGO but not the Church, the Bride of Christ»

We have heard in the Mass Gospel a central fact for the life of Peter and the Church. Jesus asks that fisherman of Galilee an act of faith in his divine status and Pedro does not hesitate to say: "You are the Christ, the son of the living God" (Mt 16:16). Immediately, Jesus institutes the Primacy, by telling Peter that he will be the firm rock upon which the Church, throughout the ages, will be built (cf. Mt 16:18) and by giving him also the power of the keys of the Kingdom, the Supreme authority.

Although Peter and his successors are assisted by the force of the Holy Spirit, they still need our prayers, because their mission is of great significance for the life of the Church: they must be a strong foundation for all Christians throughout the ages; we must, therefore, also pray, every day, for the Holy Father, for his person and for his intentions.

«You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God»

+ Mons. Pere TENA i Garriga Emeritus Auxiliar Bishop of Barcelona
(Barcelona, Spain)

Today, is the day consecrated by the martyrdom of the apostles Peter and Paul! «Peter, our leader in faith; Paul, its fearless preacher who became the teacher of the world» (Preface). Today is a day to be grateful for the Apostolic Faith, which is also our faith, proclaimed by these two pillars of the Church through their preaching. It is the faith overcoming the world, because it believes and announces Jesus Christ as the Son of God: «You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God» (Mt 16:16). Other celebrations of St. Peter and St. Paul commemorate other aspects of their lives, but to day we contemplate the memory of the Apostles «through whom our religious life had its origin» (Collect): through their martyrdom they confirmed their testimony.

Their faith, and strength for martyrdom, did not come from their human capacity. For it was no man of flesh or blood that has revealed Peter who was Jesus, but the revelation of his Father in Heaven (cf. Mt 16:17). And likewise, it was indeed God's grace that made Saul recognize Jesus, the Lord, “as the one he was persecuting”. In both cases, human freedom, necessary for the act of faith, leans on the Holy Spirit's action.

The faith of the apostles is the faith of the, one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Since Peter's confession at Caesarea Philippi, «every day, in the Church, Peter goes on saying: ‘You are Christ, the Son of the living God’» (St. Leo the Great). Ever since, till our days, a crowd of Christians of all epochs, ages, cultures, and anything else that may differentiate men has unanimously proclaimed the same victorious faith.

Through Baptism and Confirmation we are paving a path to testimony, that is, a path to martyrdom. It is necessary that we are always attentive to the “laboratory of faith” that the Holy Spirit carries out upon us (John Paul II), and that we implore with humility to be able to experiment the joy of the faith of the Church.