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Sunday, June 29, 2003

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Sts. Peter & Paul

Acts 12:1-11
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18
Psalm 34
Matthew 16:13-19

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join the church by god's standards

"Peter was thus detained in prison, while the church prayed fervently to God on his behalf." —Acts 12:5

Because Jesus is God and is Head of the Church, the Church is invincible. For example, Peter, the leader of the leaders of the early Church, was miraculously freed from "death row" shortly before King Herod had planned to execute him. Paul, the great missionary of the early Church, testified: "I was saved from the lion's jaws. The Lord will continue to rescue me from all attempts to do me harm and will bring me safe to His heavenly kingdom" (2 Tm 4:17-18). We, likewise, as members of the Church, "are more than conquerors because of Him Who has loved us" (Rm 8:37). The gates of hell cannot prevail against the Church (Mt 16:18).

Nonetheless, the Lord allows His Church to be persecuted. He even lets the members of His Church be martyred. Contrary to appearances, this does not mean that His Church is defeated and not invincible. Rather, it means that the Church is following in the footsteps of her crucified Head. "You can depend on this: If we have died with Him we shall also live with Him; if we hold out to the end we shall also reign with Him" (2 Tm 2:11-12).

Therefore, rejoice that the Lord has chosen you to be a member of His body, the invincible, persecuted Church. Love the Church (Eph 5:25). Joyfully and humbly submit to the authority of the Church (see Heb 13:17). Invite as many people as possible to give themselves to Jesus and enter His Church. Take your part in the Church and thereby build the Church.

Prayer:  Father, like Jesus may I lay down my life for the Church (Eph 5:25).

Promise:  "The Lord stood by my side and gave me strength, so that through me the preaching task might be completed and all the nations might hear the gospel." —2 Tm 4:17

Praise:  Different in backgrounds, personality, careers, Sts. Peter and Paul were united in a way only explained by the power of the unifying Holy Spirit.

Nihil Obstat:  Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, December 29, 2002

Imprimatur:  †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, December 31, 2002