The Gospel Today
Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
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.”
Reflection (Sem. Alejandro Pestano):
The last two verses of today’s Gospel are the biblical basis for the Sacrament of Penance. In this sacrament, we, first of all, acknowledge to ourselves that we are sinners in need of forgiveness from God. It may be a humbling experience to line up in a confessional box for confession but it is necessary that we be humbled for it is only in humility that one can have a true encounter with the Lord.
Jesus teaches us that we should love one another and this includes those who have done wrong to us. Jesus said “Love your enemies.” For the Jews the rule is “an eye for an eye” or “tooth for a tooth” For God it is different – it is love and forgiveness. As I was reflecting on this Gospel, my attention was focused on Jesus hanging on the cross. As I was looking at the crucifix, I recalled the words of Jesus saying “Father, forgive them…” I began to question myself “What made me worthy to receive forgiveness from the Lord? I came to recollect my experience in the 30-day retreat where I met God who told me “I love you and that’s it.”
For Jesus, what is more important is relationship. To love God means to love all, not only those people whom we like for He said “What recompense can you have if you only love those who love you?” The message of the Gospel is to love all, to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. Abp. Dolan said that there are six necessary or important words that must be uttered if we want to have a lasting relationship with one another. These are “I love you” and “I am sorry.” Saying “I love you” may be easy. At times it becomes an abused phrase. But saying “I am sorry” is a bit difficult to say because it requires me to first admit to myself that I have done wrong. We can never say sorry to others without first admitting that we have done wrong. It is only then that I can ask for forgiveness and that I too may forgive others who have sinned against me.
Today also we celebrate the feast of the two pillars of our Church – St. Peter and St. Paul. These two have sinned against God but they acknowledged their sins and asked for forgiveness and decided to totally follow Christ. May these two great saints become our model of faith in following Jesus. We are sinners, yet we are loved and were forgiven.