The institutional and charismatic dimensions of the Church do not have to be seen as in always in conflict with one another. They are in fact complementary. Just as the Early Church needed both the figures of Peter and Paul to give it its initial impetus, so charism and institution serve the Church to keep it faithful to its God-given mission.

Peter is entrusted with the ‘Keys of the Kingdom.’ In him and his successor popes who have the charism to be the visible face of Jesus to the world, and to exercise full authority within the life of the Church serve the Church. (I am not going to go into here the nuances of exactly what that authority is and how it is supposed to be exercised.) The Scriptures relate to us how Paul looks to Peter for the authority to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. He does not presume to know this on account of his on sense of revelation alone. He willingly submits his mission under the authority of Peter. At the same time we are all aware that Paul was not afraid to challenge what he believed to be incorrect practices within the life of the Church. Paul is a good example of both openness to the Holy Spirit and submission to Church authority.

Leadership within the life of Church must be understood in the context of service. If it is just about authority the church will become a dictatorship and we do not want that. If it is just about what one individual believes is the leading of the Holy Spirit without reference to the institution there will be only a mess. There will be no unity. Good leadership will be able to both protect the Church and its mission while being open to authentic leading of the Holy Spirit.

As we reflect upon the charismatic nature of the life and mission of St Paul and we compare it with the life and mission of St Peter, it is wrong to see the two in inevitable conflict. Yes, they disagreed at times, but to their credit, because of their ultimate commitment to the will of God they were able to, together, help lay some of the primary foundations of the life of the Church that still serve us well today.

What sort of balance between charism and institution is there in my life? Is it a healthy dynamic or not? Do I tend to be too dogmatic about things and not open to the Spirit or am I the opposite? How can I find a better balance if that is necessary?

Jesus, you were a man of the Spirit. You did not challenge the institutionalized expressions of faith unless they were in need of change. Help me to be able to discern what needs to be changed in my own attitudes first, before I seek to change anything else.