Vigil: Acts 3:1-10/Ps 19/Gal 1:11-20/Jn 21:15-19.
Day: Acts 12:1-11/Ps 34/2 Tm 4:6-8.17-18/Mt 16:13-19
For many centuries the undisputed interpretation of the text we have for today’s Gospel supported both the Primacy of the role of Peter among the apostles and provided part of the scriptural support for the Church’s understanding of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Today, there are so many different interpretations given by anyone and everyone who considers themselves an authority on the matter. However, I am yet to hear one good argument that indicates the Catholic Church has got its interpretation wrong. In fact, the Catholic understanding, in my opinion, is the only one that stands up to any sort of rigorous theological and scriptural investigation.
Today we celebrate the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul, two of the greatest men of the Church to live. In the Gospel we clearly hear Jesus outlining something of his will to Peter concerning the establishing of the Church and how he, Peter, has a special role in the Church. The Church as an institution is established to protect and guard its essence or charism – the gift of salvation it ministers to the world. It is obvious to anyone with any knowledge of enduring realities that there needs to be an established order in any movement if it is going to last beyond the first generation. And it is here we see the fault of so many of today’s so-called Independent Gospel Churches. As soon as someone disagrees with the pastor or leader they split off and create a new Church precisely because there is no real order or institution within the church. And there never will be until they return to the scriptural basis of authority in the Church and recognise what it was that Jesus was doing when he spoke to Peter in the words we read today.
While there can be times when we think that the Catholic Church is too strict or is too bogged down in authoritarian structures, there is a reason for this. Jesus wanted the Church to endure! Without the institution of authority this would be impossible as we see in the constant splitting of the Independent Churches. We have to be careful that the institution does not suppress the charism or ministry of the Church. That is why the Holy Spirit continues to raise up new movements and communities in the life of the Catholic Church.
Do I understand and accept the place of authority in the life of the Church? If not, maybe I need to pray for the grace to understand its reason better.
Holy Spirit, do not allow me to be come disillusioned with the slowness of the Church to respond to certain issues. Help me to respond to the Holy Spirit’s calling while remaining faithful to the Church at all times.