Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi. He asked his disciples, «Who do people say the Son of Man is?». They said, «For some of them you are John the Baptist, for others Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the prophets». Jesus asked them, «But you, who do you say I am?». Peter answered, «You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God». Jesus replied, «It is well for you, Simon Barjona, for it is not flesh or blood that has revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. And now I say to you: You are Peter (or Rock) and on this rock I will build my Church; and never will the powers of death overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and what you unbind on earth shall be unbound in heaven».
«You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God»
+ Mons. Pere TENA i Garriga Emeritus Auxiliar Bishop of Barcelona
Today, is the day consecrated by the martyrdom of the apostles Peter and Paul! «Peter, our leader in faith; Paul, its fearless preacher who became the teacher of the world» (Preface). Today is a day to be grateful for the Apostolic Faith, which is also our faith, proclaimed by these two pillars of the Church through their preaching. It is the faith overcoming the world, because it believes and announces Jesus Christ as the Son of God: «You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God» (Mt 16:16). Other celebrations of St. Peter and St. Paul commemorate other aspects of their lives, but to day we contemplate the memory of the Apostles «through whom our religious life had its origin» (Collect): through their martyrdom they confirmed their testimony.
Their faith, and strength for martyrdom, did not come from their human capacity. For it was no man of flesh or blood that has revealed Peter who was Jesus, but the revelation of his Father in Heaven (cf. Mt 16:17). And likewise, it was indeed God's grace that made Saul recognize Jesus, the Lord, “as the one he was persecuting”. In both cases, human freedom, necessary for the act of faith, leans on the Holy Spirit's action.
The faith of the apostles is the faith of the, one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Since Peter's confession at Caesarea Philippi, «every day, in the Church, Peter goes on saying: ‘You are Christ, the Son of the living God’» (St. Leo the Great). Ever since, till our days, a crowd of Christians of all epochs, ages, cultures, and anything else that may differentiate men has unanimously proclaimed the same victorious faith.
Through Baptism and Confirmation we are paving a path to testimony, that is, a path to martyrdom. It is necessary that we are always attentive to the “laboratory of faith” that the Holy Spirit carries out upon us (John Paul II), and that we implore with humility to be able to experiment the joy of the faith of the Church.