Sunday, June 29, 2008  “Upon this Rock, I will build my Church and the gates of the underworld will never prevail against it.”

Homily, Sunday, June 29, 2008

Today, the church has elected to commemorate the Feast and life of the Two Epic Pillars of the Church, Saint Peter and Saint Paul -- two of whom it is hard to imagine the Church without.

The way the Church does celebrate these giants is to pair them together, because it is hard to imagine one without the other. They were so complementary. St. Peter was an apostle to the Jewish nation, while St. Paul was an Apostle to the Gentiles. All this was designed by God who called them both and gave them these important responsibilities. Both had a tremendous love for Christ. They would run through a mountain to get to Jesus. St. Peter would walk on water to get to Jesus. Nothing, Nothing could stand in the way of these two to come to Jesus, and they invited everybody to come to Jesus. And we are thankful to these unassuming Gentle Giants.

Our Holy word, especially the Book of Acts is a book dedicated to these two equally and proportionately. It's pays tribute to these two pillars/ Christian giants. The Book of Acts can be rightly called Acts of the Two Apostles, because it is actually the Acts of Peter and Paul. They share an equal importance and space in the history of nascent early church. They were indeed Brothers in Faith. Almost like Twin Brothers in Christ because of their passion.

We are given a few scenes into the life of St. Peter in the Acts and in the Gospel, while we see Apostolic Succession in the Second Reading.

APPLICATION:

Acts 12: 1-11 -- God permits evil in order to manifest his glory to the world.

Evil may assail us, but God is still in charge even through it all. Where there is disorder, God's Order still prevails. A famous saying, “God writes straight in squiggles/crooked ways.”

St. Peter had heard Our Lord's words that “Upon this Rock, I will build my Church and the gates of the underworld will never prevail against it.” The church is a house built on the Rock. Heavy rains will fall, and strong winds will pummel it, but it will remain firm.

We are told that Herod (one of Herod the Great's grandsons) was doing the dirty job for the Pharisees who wanted to cut the life of the Church of Jesus Christ. The Pharisees wanted Herod to exterminate the Christians. They wanted someone with power to carry out their dirty wish. In Herod they found someone who was more than glad to do it to win the Pharisees' favor. He killed for convenience, for political favor. Even the Roman Empire found in the Herod family people who could do anything for them.

And the only way to carry out the Pharisees' wish was to target the leadership. He started with James, the brother of John, two sons of Zebedee. He was the first to go. Herod beheaded him.

The reason I say, God remains in charge and in control through adversity is the way even what appears to be chaos happens. Apostle James was the first of the 12 to go. His brother, John was the last of the Twelve to go. Thus their mother's wish that they both be on either side of Our Lord: one on his right, another on his left in heaven. So, here private prayer was granted. He had warned that them that what they were asking for was actually a bitter cup, which meant it was martyrdom.

It says that when he realized that by killing Apostle James, his act was pleasing to the Jews, he then went for even a bigger fish, Peter. “He had James, the brother of John killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews he proceeded to arrest Peter.”

God manifested his power also through Peter's escape from maximum prison with such a tight security (of 4 squads X 4), that it is inconceivable to a human mind that escape was at all possible.

So, God allowed this arrest and imprisonment in preparation to behead him the next day, so that He could manifest his glory that with him in the equation, no human power under the sun can stop His Church. That if He doesn't will it, none of his Apostle/Chosen Ones/Disciples can be touched.

St. Paul recounts a similar story/experience of the Lord's protection (of the divine providence) on him. “The Lord stood by me and gave me strength.... And I was rescued from lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat and will bring me safe to his heavenly kingdom.”

The Power of Intercessory prayer: It says that “but prayer by the church was fervently made to God on his behalf.” Here you see how powerful the intercessory prayer of the Church Community is. When we are united we are stronger than the word strong. When we are united in faith we can move mountains and break chains. No power on earth can prevail against us. 

Then the question we should ask ourselves is why is it that the gates of evil still prevail on earth, sometimes over us? It's because we are not united as church of Christ. Division enables Satan to get into the Garden of Eden, the Church, and divide us from God, so that God may no longer have a say, but Satan have a say about what goes on here on earth. We are the most numerous Christian group on the face of the earth. We are the ones who devised Democratic process, and now that very same tool of having a say in what goes on here on earth is being used against us (the church), and in many cases we are used by the Satan to do Satan's Will (Evil Forces).

Abortion and Contraception: An area that we are divided on is the area of Morals. We are divided on matters of Faith as well. Many don't believe that St. Peter was given the keys to be the one to open or close entrance into heaven. So they disobey Peter's appointed successors left and right. They don't believe in the Infallibility of the Pope when he teaches (ex cathedra, sitting on the seat of Peter) in matters of faith and morals. The basis of this doctrine is today's correctness of Peter in providing the answer to Our Lord's question. Our Lord says, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.” So, when a question in matter of faith and morals arises, and Peter's successor answers the question, it will be revealed to him by the Heavenly Father. And Our Lord said, those who shall listen to you, listen to me, those who listen to me, listen to my Father. That's how it goes.

CONCLUSION:

God comes to the aid of his people (provides for his people) in times of persecution/trial. “The angel of the Lord encamps besides those who fear the Lord, and delivers them.” Even in the face of death, your guardian angel will stand by you, and tap you on your shoulder to awake you to your resurrection.

God permits evil on earth so to manifest his Glory.

The Lord writes straight in crooked lines. He manifests his order/program of salvation even in the midst of chaos of persecution. He will not allow his Church to be denied by the gates and forces of evil (Hell, the netherworld).

This church is built on Rock: Strong wind may blow and heavy rains pummel it, but when the dust settles and the smoke clears, it will remain standing. The gates and forces of hell, such as Herod, abortion and contraception will not prevail against it. Sometimes we carry out the work of Herod, killing the innocent for convenience; killing even more to have political supporters. Herod at the begging of the Pharisees did exactly what Pontius Pilate did to Jesus, at the begging of the Jews.

We have power in the Prayer of the Church for these who are under the chains of Satan, the innocent as well as those who do his job/word, dancing to his drumbeat.

The voice of the Pope and the Teaching body of the Church represents the voice of Christ on Earth and those who listen to him listen to Christ and those who listen to Christ listen to God. How can you know that you are listening to Christ, by listening to the Church, headed by Peter and believing that He is infallible because if He speaks in the name of God/Christ, God the Father will reveal to him what is right and what is wrong. He is the Standard Bearer. Where the Standard Bearer is, is where we should all strive to line ourselves with. That's where the line is. Where Peter is, that's where the line is.

 

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