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Feast of Saints Peter and Paul
June 29, Annually
Lectionary Index #591

Twenty-second digests for the congregation: Arrange with your liturgy committee to have these brief historical introductions read to the assembly before you do each reading.

Who should announce these before the first and second readings, and before the gospel acclamation? They're not Scripture, nor homiletic, so they shouldn't be delivered from the ambo. They're a modest teaching. So let the presider say them from the chair. Let the lector turn toward the presider and listen.
Print this page, cut it at the blue lines, and give the introduction paragraphs to the person who will speak them.


Feast of Saints Peter and Paul (morning mass), June 29, Annually
Before the first reading:

In Acts of the Apostles, Saint Luke's history written for pagan converts, this account follows the opening Pentecost story. Luke introduces a pattern in which the early Christians go through the same experiences Jesus did. They work miracles, give powerful teachings, win converts and suffer persecution. Today's passage is their first miracle cure.
After the psalm, before the second reading:

This part of 2 Timothy is written as a kind of farewell address by a senior apostle to a representative of a young Christian community.
Before the gospel acclamation:

The appendix of John's gospel contains one more post-Resurrection appearance of Jesus to his disciples. It, too, indicates the way a disciple experiences the events of the life of Jesus.

To pay for use of the words above, please subtract an equal number of optional words from other places in the liturgy (click here for some suggestions).

First reading, Acts 12:1-11 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Background: The custom of imperial Rome was to leave native kings in place, under supervision of a senior Roman official. We're familiar with this from the passion narratives in the gospels; in Luke, chapter 23, for example, Pilate and an earlier Herod take turns trying Jesus. It's not clear why the Herod of Acts 12, named Herod Agrippa, gained political advantage from persecuting the once popular Christians. Perhaps the vigorous, argumentative testimony of Stephen in Acts 7 converted some to and hardened others against the gospel.

Proclaiming it: The author took care to record many colorful details in this story, suggesting that you should articulate them carefully:

Also, speak carefully the sentence "not realizing that ... was real" and its companion sentence "Now I know for certain ..." The gist is that Peter first thought he was seeing a vision, then realized that this all was actually happening. That, perhaps, is the most important detail of all.

Second Reading, 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18 [Jerusalem Bible translation]

The Historical Background: Saint Paul (or someone writing in his name) loved the young churchman Timothy and gave him encouragement and various instructions in at least two letters. Today's passage is a kind of farewell from the senior apostle, and should be read thoughtfully, slowly, solemnly, and triumphantly (if the lector can manage all four of those at once).

Saint Paul sees his imminent martyrdom in terms of sacrificial worship. That's what he means by the expression, "I am already being poured out like a libation." The New Jerusalem Bible (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1985) says in a footnote to this verse, "Libations of wine, water or oil were poured over the victims not only in gentile sacrifices but also in Jewish ones; see Exodus 29:40; Numbers 28:7"

Who are "all who have longed for his appearance"? Not those who want to gaze on the Lord's face, but those who expect the Lord to appear, to return in glory. The modern expression of that expectation is "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again." Some translations say "longed for his appearing," where the unambiguous verbal form makes it clearer.

The second paragraph is about Paul's temporary vindication in a first trial. He gives the glory to God, and exults that even Gentiles got to hear the gospel by way of his testimony on that occasion. But, though saved once from the lion's mouth, he's realistic in predicting that he's bound for the Lord's heavenly kingdom.

Proclaiming it: Suppose you could deliver a testament, as in "last will and testament," orally to your loved ones at a ripe old age. Suppose you had not money and property to bequeath, but experiences that, over your years, had built you up in wisdom and virtue. How would you speak?

Several other commentaries on these passages. All are thoughtful, all quite readable, from the scholarly to the popular.
Links may be incomplete more than a few weeks before the "due date."

Father Roger Karban of Belleville, Illinois, USA, writes a newspaper column about every Sunday's readings. Here are his essays for today's passages, from:

courtesy of The Evangelist, official publication of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany, New York, or of The Belleville Messenger, of the Diocese of Belleville.

Read all of Father Karban's recent columns here, at the site of FOSIL, the Faithful of Southern Illinois.

Archived weekly column of Father Francis X. Cleary, S.J. (Log in using 0026437 and 63137.) The Text This Week; links to homilies, art works, movies and other resources on the week's scripture themes.

The Lectionary selections in the frame at the left, if any, are there for your convenience. The publishers of the page in that frame have no connection, except for membership in the one Body of Christ, with the publisher of this page. Likewise the publishers of the pages on the links above.


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Last modified: May 7, 2013