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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

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Sts. Peter & Paul

Acts 12:1-11
2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18
Psalm 34:2-9
Matthew 16:13-19

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dying to live

"Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel to rescue me." —Acts 12:11

The Lord sent an angel to rescue St. Peter from prison and execution (Acts 12:7ff). St. Paul proclaimed: "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 4:18). Like Peter and Paul, we need to be repeatedly rescued from physical death; more importantly, we must be rescued from the fear of death and the refusal to die to self (see Lk 9:23). Not being willing to die is more of a problem than dying.

The Resurrection of Jesus is the heart of the gospel. Paul taught: "Remember that Jesus Christ, a descendant of David, was raised from the dead. This is the gospel I preach" (2 Tm 2:8). "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is void of content and your faith is empty too" (1 Cor 15:14). Therefore, if we give in to the fear of death or refuse to die to self, we effectively and in effect deny the gospel of the risen Christ. Spiritual paralysis to the fear of death or selfish refusal to lay down our lives speak much louder than our words about risen life.

Peter and Paul were not necessarily better preachers and teachers than millions of Christians throughout the centuries. However, they were exceptionally used by God because they were unafraid to risk their lives daily (1 Cor 15:31), to live on the edge, to be the grain of wheat that falls to the earth and dies (Jn 12:24), to carry about in their bodies the dying of Jesus (2 Cor 4:10), to "constantly [be] delivered to death for Jesus' sake" (2 Cor 4:11). Lose your life for Jesus, and you will gain it (Lk 9:24).

Prayer:  Father, to me may "life" mean Christ and hence dying be so much gain (Phil 1:21).

Promise:  "No mere man has revealed this to you, but My heavenly Father." —Mt 16:17

Praise:  Sts. Peter and Paul were chosen by God to be giants in His Kingdom and they remained true until death.

Rescript:  †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, February 1, 2011

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