FEAST OF STS. PETER AND PAUL (June 29)
CHRIST- THE CHURCH- PETER
“And I tell you, you are Peter and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven... whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Mt 16:18-19)
One of the differences between the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian churches is the primacy of the Pope. Perhaps because the two churches have different stands, their interpretations of the above Scripture passage have given rise to a strange phenomenon.
In general, other Christian churches base their interpretations on
the exact words of Scripture (because they emphasize 'Scripture only')
whereas the Catholic Church believes Scripture should be interpreted
within the tradition of a living Church
To discover Peter's unique position in Scripture, one need only read
through all four Gospels to find a clear, direct conclusion; the example
is in the use of the word 'rock'.
The relationship between Jesus and Peter makes me think of the one between Confucius and Yan Hui. Jesus often mentioned Peter's position, just as Confucius who liked Yan Hui very much often spoke of him. Confucius said, “I could talk with Yan Hui all day long.” (1) Yan Hui could comprehend Confucius' teaching very easily. Confucius had a high regard for Yan Hui's ability to learn. He said that “he learned one thing and would know ten more,”(1) which even Confucius himself could not do. Confucius often said that Yan Hui had great wisdom. “A sage is Yan Hui!” Even in extreme poverty Yan Hui held on to his principles and “remained joyful.” When Yan Hui died Confucius was in great grief and said repeatedly, “The heavens took him! The heavens took him!” He thought the heavens above had taken his life.
Confucius and Yan Hui had a special relationship. Those who are familiar
with the Gospels cannot but notice that Peter was somewhat different
from the other apostles. His relationship with Jesus was far more intimate
than the relationship between Jesus and the other disciples.
This dual characteristic of the Church confirms that there are two kinds of 'rock.' (foundation): the one and only foundation is Christ; the foundation on 'earth' is Peter and his successors, the Popes.
Jesus does not himself look after the church nor again directly preach or evangelize, nor clarify questions that arise. He does not himself teach catechumens nor directly resolve any of the difficulties of the world or the Church...
The Church on earth is looked after by people on earth. In the church which exists in this world, it is Peter and his successors, the Popes in consultation with the Bishops, who have the concern for the Church.
This is the 'rock' (foundation) of the Church on earth, and Christ's church gathers in community around this rock. And Peter and his successors, the Popes, are “a lasting and visible source and foundation of the unity both of faith and of communion.” (Const. on the Church, Art. 18). Of course, the entire Church - in heaven and on earth - must be in communion with Christ. Whether Peter or any Pope, all are only servants of Christ.
All of us must journey towards Christ, but a special characteristic of the Roman Catholic Church is that we journey together with the Pope and Bishops, all of us are part of one mystical Body. The Pope cannot do without the Church nor can the Church do without the Pope, and none of us can do without Christ!