The readings today deal with Peter and Paul, with each reading hinting at the eventual fate of that one Apostle. In the Gospel Jesus seems to have a vision of Peter being led off to his death in Rome. He said, “When you are old someone else will dress you and lead out to where you do not want to go.”
In somewhat the same line, the first reading has the Roman governor deciding Paul should end his days in Rome.
That followed on yesterday’s reading in which Paul was clever enough to avoid immediate condemnation in Jerusalem. On seeing that half of his accusers were Pharisees, and half Sadducees, he evaded immediate judgment by getting the two parties fighting. He did that by announcing that he was a Pharisee, and that he was on trial for his belief in the resurrection of the dead.
The Sadducees, who didn’t believe in life after death shouted that there was no such thing, while the Pharisees said there was. In the midst of their loud debate Paul, claiming Roman citizenship, demanded that he be brought to Rome for trial.
A century after Peter and Paul were put to death in Rome St. Irenaeus wrote that Peter and Paul had not died in Rome until they had fully handed the teaching of Christ on to the Christians there. Irenaeus said that for that reason the Christian beliefs of the people of Rome must be seen as coming from Christ through his two principal Apostles.