These are the ones who, living in the flesh, planted the Church with their blood; they drank the chalice of the Lord and became the friends of God.
O God, who on the Solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul, give us the noble and holy joy of this day, grant, we pray, that your Church may, in all things, follow the teaching of those through whom she received the beginnings of right religion. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
First reading: Acts 12:1-11
King Herod started persecuting certain members of the Church. He beheaded James the brother of John, and when he saw that this pleased the Jews he decided to arrest Peter as well. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread, and he put Peter in prison, assigning four squads of four soldiers each to guard him in turns. Herod meant to try Peter in public after the end of Passover week. All the time Peter was under guard the Church prayed to God for him unremittingly. On the night before Herod was to try him, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, fastened with double chains, while guards kept watch at the main entrance to the prison. Then suddenly the angel of the Lord stood there, and the cell was filled with light. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him. ‘Get up!’ he said ‘Hurry!’ – and the chains fell from his hands. The angel then said, ‘Put on your belt and sandals.’ After he had done this, the angel next said, ‘Wrap your cloak round you and follow me.’ Peter followed him, but had no idea that what the angel did was all happening in reality; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed through two guard posts one after the other, and reached the iron gate leading to the city. This opened of its own accord; they went through it and had walked the whole length of one street when suddenly the angel left him. It was only then that Peter came to himself. ‘Now I know it is all true’ he said. ‘The Lord really did send his angel and has saved me from Herod and from all that the Jewish people were so certain would happen to me.’
R/ From all my terrors the Lord set me free.
- I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise always on my lips; in the Lord my soul shall make its boast. The humble shall hear and be glad.
- Glorify the Lord with me. Together let us praise his name. I sought the Lord and he answered me; from all my terrors he set me free.
- Look towards him and be radiant; let your faces not be abashed. This poor man called, the Lord heard him and rescued him from all his distress.
- The angel of the Lord is encamped around those who revere him, to rescue them. Taste and see that the Lord is good. He is happy who seeks refuge in him.
Second reading: 2 Timothy 4:6-8,17-18
My life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day; and not only to me but to all those who have longed for his appearing. The Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me, and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Gospel Acclamation: Mt16:18
Alleluia, alleluia! You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. Alleluia!
Gospel : Matthew 16:13-19
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 he is 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, ‘You are the Christ,’ he said ‘the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Simon son of Jonah, you are a happy man! Because it was not flesh and blood 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 Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.’
Prayer over the Offerings
May the prayer of the Apostles, O Lord, accompany the sacrificial gift that we present to your name for consecration, and may their intercession make us devoted to you in celebration of the sacrifice. Through Christ our Lord.
Communion Antiphon: Cf. Mt 16: 16, 18
Peter said to Jesus: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus replied: You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church.
Prayer after Communion
Grant us, O Lord, who have been renewed by this Sacrament, so to live in the Church, that, persevering in the breaking of the Bread and in the teaching of the Apostles, we may be one heart and one soul, made steadfast in your love. Through Christ our Lord.
In the Gospel text of today, Jesus asks a very pertinent question: who do you say I am? The way we relate with a person depends on who that person is to us. When Jesus asks who he is, he wants to know the place he occupies in our lives. The apostles were very ready to tell him the views of other people but when it came to their turn, they could not speak except Peter. Very often, we are ready to give the views of other persons, especially in matters of faith, but we cannot give a personal testimony of faith. If Jesus made Peter the rock on which he was going to build his Church, it is simply because that answer gave a true definition of Jesus flowing from the heart of Peter. We often find ourselves in situations where we need to show who Jesus is to us. Today, Jesus is asking that burning question to us: who do you say I am? Let us ask the spirit to assist us so that we can give a favourable answer.