No Peter Without Paul
Wednesday, October 5, 2022, 27th Week of Ordinary Time, Year CII
by Fr. David M. Knight
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The Responsorial Psalm commissions us like Paul and Barnabas, “Go out to all the world and tell the Good News” (Psalm 117).
In Galatians 2: 1-14 Paul declares his call equal to Peter’s, because it came directly from Jesus, as Peter’s did. Peter represents the authority of the apostolic Church. Paul, however, seems to have been raised up by the Spirit of the risen Lord to bear witness above all to the primacy of an inward communion of faith and love, the perpetually new work of the Spirit…. There we have what we might call ‘the primacy of Paul.’ It was charismatic rather than institutional. Paul was the one who bore witness to the absolute, radical authority of the Word over everything and everyone….
Peter and Paul could have divided the early Church. But they died in communion with each other:
The two ‘primacies’ met at Rome, intermingling in the blood of martyrdom. There the ‘glorious witnesses’ welded into one communion the leadership of the protos [Peter] and the authority of the prophet [Paul]. The Christian community at Rome… now became the place of total, perfect confession of the apostolic faith, with no split in its faithfulness both to its roots in the historical group which Jesus had gathered during his earthly ministry [through Peter] and to the new experience of the Spirit of the resurrection [through Paul].1
That is why the church in Rome has been entrusted with the special “stewardship of unity,” the task of keeping all the churches in the world united in the faith for which Peter and Paul died together. This entails the duty of preserving and encouraging throughout the Church the strength of both primacies: the institutional authority of Peter and the charismatic leadership of Paul.
Our basic priorities are those Jesus listed in the Our Father. Because in Luke 11: 1-4 the wording of the Lord’s Prayer is different from Matthew 6:9-14, we know this prayer was not given as a formula to be memorized and recited — although this is very useful — but as a listing of the priorities of Jesus’ own heart that we must adopt if we want to pray as Jesus did. And they are all asking for the same thing: the final, complete triumph of Christ in the “end time” when he will come in glory.
The “daily bread” we ask for is Jesus, the Bread of life and bread of the heavenly wedding banquet, where all will be perfectly forgiven and forgiving in the “unity and peace” of the kingdom.
As “stewards of Christ’s kingship,” we live for this alone. We have abandoned all earthly desires to live in the sole expectation of Christ’s return, for the acceleration of which we have devoted all we have and are. Our life is a response to the words, “Go out to all the world and tell the Good News!”
1J. M. R. Tillard, O.P., The Bishop of Rome, Michael Glazier, Inc., 1986, pages 74-117. It would be more precisely accurate to say the “authority” of Peter and the “leadership” of Paul.
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Live for the parousia. Work for God’s reign.
Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry