The Gospel reading for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul is Matthew 16:13-19. 

After warning the disciples of the poisonous teachings of the Pharisees, Christ leads the Apostles on a grueling walk (30+ miles) to north to Caesarea Philippi, the home of a temple where the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus was worshiped as the “Son of God.” It is before this false temple, Christ reveals Himself as the true Son of God and establishes Peter as the exclusive Patriarch of Christ’s unconquerable Catholic Church of the New Covenant. Later, Christ calls Paul to join Peter to become the two pillars of the Catholic Church. 

To establish His Church, Christ chooses Simon, renames him Peter (Cephas, meaning “rock”) and gives Peter authority of the Church after His Ascension.  Peter, despite his flaws, does indeed become the “rock” of the Church Militant (the Church on earth), leading the Church for thirty years. Establishing the pattern of fearless leadership, Peter becomes the first pope (meaning “father”) and is crucified by the Roman Emperor Nero in the mid 60’s A.D.; Peter is crucified head down by his own request for he believes he is unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as Christ.  Saint Peter’s relics continue to be venerated in the great St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. 

Several years after His Ascension, Christ personally appears to Saul, the violent Jewish persecutor of the Church, temporarily blinding him and calling him to conversion (Acts 9).  Saul is converted, eventually taking the name of “Paul” and becomes the second great pillar of the Church Militant; the Apostle to the Gentiles. After his conversion, Paul spends the last 30 years of his life establishing the Church throughout Asia Minor and Greece and leaving a written record through his collaboration with Luke (Gospel of Luke and Acts) and his own epistles (Greek: “letters”). Paul was martyred by Nero in the late 60’s A.D. and his relics continue to be venerated in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. 

Awed by Jesus Christ – Christ is recognized and acknowledges that He is the Son of God. Divine King, Christ establishes the Catholic Church as an unconquerable patriarchy (ruled by men), led by Peter and his successors. Divine Prophet, Christ predicts the success and persistence of the Catholic Church. Divine Priest, Christ establishes the Sacrament of Confession and the forgiveness of sins which is exclusively available to Catholics.   

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Marvel at Christ’s Divine Genius in selecting the most unlikely of men, Peter (a simple, uneducated fisherman) and Paul (a highly educated but virulent anti-Christian) to build His Church which continues to exist 2000 years after His Ascension.  

2) In His Divine Wisdom, Christ establishes Peter and his successors as the exclusive male leaders of Christ’s unconquerable Catholic Church. Refresh your understanding of the Hierarchical Constitution of the Church (CCC 552, 871-896, 100, 937, 1463, 2034) and give thanks for the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit’s wisdom in establishing a perpetual patriarchy to rule the Church.  St. Peter, pray for us. 

3) In His Divine Wisdom, Christ calls and inspires the Paul to help establish the early magisterium of the Church: Paul is credited with writing/influencing  about half of the New Testament (Luke, Acts, Epistles).  Renew your commitment to Sacred Scripture (CCC 101-141) and pray for Christ to help you sustain a daily habit of reading and contemplating Scripture. St. Paul, pray for us.