” Tu Es Petrus “…”You are Peter”

The majestic dome of ST.Peter ‘s   in Rome , has these  powerful words chiseled  around it, “Tu es  Petrus et super hanc petram edificabo ecclesiam meam “. ‘You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church’.

These are powerful words  coming from Jesus Christ , appointing  Peter the head of the Church. What did Jesus see in this rugged Galilean fisherman to give him such responsibility and honor ?

We all know stories about young men and women who coasted  along  for a long time.Then, all of a sudden began to put their lives on the line in a way they had not done before.  Class reunion can be a great surprise! The great Thomas Aquinas was nicknamed the ‘ dumb ox’ by his classmates, for he rarely spoke or asked any questions in class. Guess what ?  He became the greatest Philosopher and Theologian that ever lived.

Peter was not a great intellectual. He was not always  brave,  and scripture says that he  could not run as fast as John, who was younger. He argued with Jesus,  he wont let Jesus wash his feet at the last supper. Three time he denied that he knew Jesus. He was not as powerful with the Jews as James was and not as influential as Paul.

Simon Peter most of the time coasted along.  But, after the resurrection this all changed.

Peter became the  Rock.  Jesus gave Peter the chance to wipe out the memory of his denial by a threefold declaration of love, “Peter , do you love me  ? “.  Jesus, here gave him the ‘keys’ of the kingdom, and made him the leader, the head of the early Christian community, ” Feed my lambs, feed my sheep”.

Peter’s leadership and primacy is evident in the early Church. He is mentioned more often than the other disciples. He is always mentioned first and is the one who speaks for others.  Peter presided over the election of Matthias and worked the first miracle and received the first Gentile convert. He confirmed the others (apostles) in the faith. (See the Acts of the apostles).

His life was not easy. To be a Christian is not a vocation to popularity. Even  less so , to be a leader of the Church. But Christ promised his lifelong support..” I will be with you till the end of time”. Peter as tradition  has it,  led the Church in  Antioch  then moved to Rome and eventually died in the eternal city, Rome. Peter was the center of unity and protector of Christ’s  message of salvation.

As time went on and the Church grew, the successors of Peter as bishop of Rome continued to be a sign of unity and leadership. ” The Church is a sign , a sacrament of unity. As Peter was the center of unity, so is the person of the pope.” (Vat.11)

The Church has a message to deliver. Often she seems as a sign of contradiction, but so was Christ. The pope’s message many a time is distorted by the secular media. Let us always remember  that Christ and His Church are not  on a popularity contest. We are to look at the Pope as a unifying  principle: tending the sheep and the shepherds. This obligation and privilege has been given to Peter and his successors  by Christ  himself.

Prayer::All powerful Father, you have built your church on the rock of St. Peter’s confession of faith. May nothing divide or weaken our unity in faith and love. (Bk. of Christian Prayer).

God bless you and yours.                                         Fr. David ,O.P.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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