Today is the feast of Sts Peter and Paul. They are both great pillars of the early church.
Peter was chosen by Jesus as the leader of the group of the twelve apostles. Jesus changed his name from Simon to Cephas which means rock in Hebrew. This changing of names happened to other people in the scripture signalling a new role given to a person by God. Peter worked mostly with the Jewish people preaching the gospel to them in a number of places around the Mediterranean Sea.
Paul met the risen Christ when he appeared to him and changed his life. He was the great missionary apostle to the non-Jewish people i.e. the gentiles.
Peter and Paul both ended up in Rome and died under the persecution of Christians by the Roman Emperor Nero.
Peter a non-Roman citizen was crucified, Paul a Roman citizen was beheaded.
Both Peter and Paul make a tremendous contribution to the establishment of the Christian Church. The two men together with the other apostles are part of our family. The church is both old and new.
Jesus said ‘Blessed is the scribe who has things both old and new’.
We as members of our church family belong to a God given community.
The Church belongs to God. We are part of a two thousand year old family. There are basic fundamentals, non negotiables which are essential if the Church is to remain the Church that Jesus gave us e.g. the divinity of Christ, the blessed Trinity etc.
The church is also forever growing in the understanding of our faith and the mysteries revealed to us by God. As we meet new realities of culture, place and time we need to respond in a manner that is real and meaningful and appropriate while remaining faithful to what has been handed on to us.
Apostolic authority is of divine origin that is it comes from Christ.
Vatican two described the role of the bishop as a servant leader working in a synodical way with the clergy and laity as well as with other bishops.
God speaks to all the people of God.
The bishop, successor to the apostles has a role of ensuring continuity with the church of all time, to ensure authentic Catholic faith. However he does not do this alone. He does it with other bishops as well as the rest of the people of God.
The feast of Peter and Paul is a feast of the Church, a servant, healing, and merciful Church called to continue the work of Christ.
The term Catholic means, for all time and places.
We have inherited a treasure, in our faith, a treasure that we are called to share with all in the service of all of God’s creation.