Acts 12:1-11 / Ps 34/2Tm 4:6-8,17-18
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Thank God for the opportunity
Of being stewards for His kingdom;
The Word of God as our ministry,
With His authority and wisdom.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-19)
Today, the Church celebrates the martyrdom of the two greatest apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: Saint Peter and Saint Paul. While St. Peter was chosen by the Lord to be the leader of the apostles, St. Paul, though not a member of the Twelve, was given the Lord’s mandate to spread the faith to the Gentiles. Thus he is known as the Apostle of the Gentiles. St. Peter received his inspiration from the Father (“This was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven”). St. Paul received his calling from Jesus Christ on his way to Damascus. Peter was a poor and unlearned fisherman; Paul was an erudite Pharisee. While Peter was empowered and exalted on Pentecost, Paul was humbled and blinded in his conversion. Both men had disparate origins and dispositions, but both came to the same faith and martyrdom.
St. Peter was entrusted the “keys to the kingdom of heaven”, the symbol of the Church’s authority and wisdom. However, it was St. Paul who spread that authority and wisdom throughout the Greek states and Roman empire. But St. Peter remained as the head of the Church, establishing its capital in Rome, the seat of paganism. There he worked tirelessly for 25 years to build the Roman Catholic Church until his martyrdom by the emperor Nero, who crucified him upside down. There also St. Paul met his fate in the hands of the same tyrant. Today in Rome we can find the greatest basilicas of the Catholic church: the Basilica of St. Peter and the Basilica of St. Paul.
Let saints Peter and Paul be our inspiration and intercessors as we serve in the Lord’s “vineyard”, whether as speaker, discussion leader, prayer leader, or servant. The Holy Spirit gives us the gifts of wisdom, joy, perseverance, peace, and a lot more when we are given the privilege to use the “keys of heaven” even in a small way. Or by serving in God’s mission, we may feel like St. Paul who “has fought the good fight and finished the race.” (2 Tim.4:7) “The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed.” (2Tim.4:17)
To everyone involved in the ministry of the Word, the work is the reward itself because the manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s gifts are such precious influences. We believe our Lord’s words that “flesh and blood has not revealed (these to us), but (our) heavenly Father.” What a joy it is to know that like the favored apostles of Jesus, we too are being sent by the Lord in spreading the Good News of salvation.
Thank You, Lord for the assurance of Your kingdom that we have received through the examples of Your saints, Peter and Paul, and for the precious opportunity of sharing in their work even in a small way. Amen.
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