SAINTS PETER AND PAUL – 29 June 2014
Rome in ancient times was the capital city of an empire. Its influence was everywhere in the world around the Mediterranean and throughout modern Europe. Before the walls of the city was breached by invaders in the early 400s another circle of influence, of power, of goodness had begun to flourish in the city and throughout the empire.
From a small at times troublesome outpost of the empire on the western end of the Mediterranean came men and women nicknamed in Antioch “Christians” because of their beliefs about a Jew named Jesus who was executed in Jerusalem at the time Pontius Pilate was the governor. The “Christians” tag came from their proclaiming that Jesus was the Christ, the one anointed by God, in Hebrew the Messiah.
Messiahs have risen up in every age before and after the time of Jesus. They promise much and usually deliver little. Whatever the rhetoric used their focus is on themselves.
Jesus was different. He instructed a small group of men and women that God was doing something new in their midst and because of their actions. He spoke of a kingdom that would give protection without armies of soldiers wielding weapons. These people gathered for prayer and ritual and in the spirit and in the name of Jesus entered the lives of those they lived with in the same way Jesus had done.
The imperial Roman authorities tolerated much but were prepared to squelch mercilessly what was seen as threats to Roman rule. From time to time, these Christians were persecuted and many died. Among them were two of the young community’s leading figures: Peter, a Jew and a fisherman, who had been the leading figure while Jesus was alive and the acknowledged leader after his death; and Paul, also a Jew but a Roman citizen and a tent-maker.
Both were executed in Rome. The present day office of Pope sees its origins in the role Peter held in the early Church. He was a faith-strengthener and a shepherd. The work of preaching and teaching and establishing new communities looks to Paul as the most influential member of the first century Church.
Down through the years Rome has held a special place among the Christian communities around the world not because of it links with the old empire but because the city where two great saints gave their lives. The links from the empire undoubtedly helped the church to flourish but it is the witness of the people inspired by those like Peter and Paul that bring the Church alive.
|Oct 20, 2014||Saints Peter and Paul 29.06.2014||Listen||Download|