My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Today’s solemnity of St. Peter and St. Paul reminds us of how the Church was born.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, of course, is the founder of his Church. But as we celebrate today, he builds his Church on the foundations of the faith of St. Peter and the witness of St. Paul.
St. Peter and St. Paul brought the Christian faith to Rome. At that time, Rome was the political center of the whole world. And as we all know, Peter and Paul were martyred there in Rome — St. Peter was crucified and St. Paul was executed.
As we know, there is an old saying that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” And their blood was the seed for the Church to grow and to spread from Rome to the ends of the earth. All the way, even, to Los Angeles.
As we just heard in our Gospel reading today, St. Peter is “the rock” of the Church.
Jesus builds his Church on the rock of St. Peter’s faith. God gave St. Peter the grace to see and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, as we just heard in today’s passage of the Gospel.
And this is really the great truth of our religion. We believe that Jesus is more than a man, more than a great prophet. He is the Son of God.
And this is the whole reason that Jesus established his Church. To tell the whole world that we have salvation in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Then Jesus gives St. Peter the keys of the Kingdom of heaven.
And that is what the Church does. The Church opens up for every one the gates of heaven. The Church brings people to that encounter with Jesus Christ that changes everything in our lives.
So our Church is built on the “rock” of St. Peter’s faith, but also on proclamation of St. Paul.
We heard that beautiful testimony of St. Paul’s in today’s second reading.
The Lord stood by me and gave me strength,
so that through me the proclamation might be completed
and all the Gentiles might hear it.
I think this is especially beautiful because it is written as St. Paul is thinking about his death, about his martyrdom. He was writing that thinking about the end of his life.
And St. Paul knows that God is with him, giving him strength. And my brothers and sisters, we have that same grace and strength from God, always in our lives, to go out and share the Gospel with the people of our time.
And I think that this is something that we know is essential and is so important for all of us. We need to keep it in mind all the time.
The Church’s mission is not just for the 12 apostles or for some special people or for priests and bishops. It’s for all of us!
We are called to be missionary disciples.
We are part of that mission of the Church, that’s who we are, men and women of faith who want to continue the mission of Jesus Christ.
As St. Peter and St. Paul did, we have to bring people to know Jesus and his salvation.
In the first reading today, we hear about how St. Peter was in jail and the members of the Church were praying for him.
So the whole Church was deeply involved in the mission of the apostles. They were just ordinary believers, people like all of us. And they were entrusted, at that specific time, with this mission of prayer, and sharing the Gospel, as the apostles were.
And we all are also entrusted with this mission of prayer and sharing the Gospel. So today we especially ask for the grace to always be together in prayer and with the great desire to share the mission of Our Lord Jesus Christ with everyone we meet.
So let’s pray for that grace today and also for the courage to follow Jesus as the apostles did. Today let’s pray for the Church, the universal Church and the Church in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Let us pray for Pope Francis, as I was saying before. And let us especially pray for the grace to be missionary disciples.
And let us ask our Blessed Mother Mary, who is the Mother of the Church, to help us to follow in the footsteps of St. Peter and St. Paul.
1. Readings: Acts 12:1-11; Ps. 34:2-9; 2 Tim. 4:6-8, 17-18; Matt. 16:13-19.