When we read in Acts what the apostles suffered for their witness to Jesus, we can focus on the good: the power of faith, the crown of martyrdom or, in the case of Peter captured by Herod, that all ended well, that the Church with her unceasing prayer and the angel with his strength were able to overcome the evil of the tyrant. But it is important that we also reflect on the magnitude of the trials suffered by the apostles and martyrs of all ages. Let us think about it: "King Herod decided to arrest some members of the Church." It is not pleasant to feel persecuted, to have the uncertainty of what may happen in the street or to know that they may enter your home to imprison you. To be in danger of death. James, John's brother, is killed by the sword. He is the first of the apostles to follow Jesus to death. He had accepted it: he had told Jesus that he could drink his own cup, and Jesus had assured him: so be it.
Peter was arrested to please the Jews. Guarded by four pickets of four soldiers each. Herod feared that his brothers would take up arms to storm the prison and free him. Little did he know that the one sword Peter took on the night of the betrayal was of no use to him. The single, clumsy wound it produced in the ear of the high priest's servant was immediately healed by Jesus. Let us put ourselves in Peter's shoes to understand that it was not a pleasant moment. But thanks to the three acts of love that healed the three denials, and to the Holy Spirit who gave him strength and consolation, Peter felt the nearness of Jesus, and in fact slept peacefully in prison. He dreamed peacefully: even the angel who freed him seemed to him like a dream or a vision.
That night had gone well. Once again he had experienced the power of God. That memory must have helped him when it was not possible for him to come down from the cross, during the persecution of Nero, whose fatal outcome we celebrate today. He must have realized that the time had truly come for Jesus' prophecy to be fulfilled: "When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, another will gird you and take you where you do not want to go." Indeed, the time had come to accept that death with which, as the Gospel of John says, "I was going to give glory to God." The time had come to obey definitively the last word that Jesus said to him on the shore of the lake: "Follow me." This time no angel would come to free him. Let us ask for the intercession of Peter and Paul to obtain from God the grace to be prepared when the time comes for us to follow Jesus radically along the way of the cross. May we meet Mary's gaze.
Homily on the readings of St. Peter and St. Paul
The priest Luis Herrera Campo offers its nanomiliaa small one-minute reflection for these readings.