The Truth of the Catholic Church does not change … but the way it is conveyed can vary from time to time.
Today, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, two larger-than-life figures from the New Testament who collectively embody the two primary ways the world hears the Word of Christ.
Peter – “the rock” – is first among the original 12 apostles and the one upon whom Christ built His Church. His one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.
When you think of Peter, you think of the Pope … the Cardinals, Bishops and Priests. These are the guys on the front lines of running our Church, fighting against theological misunderstandings, handing down official positions, be they binding or not.
Even today in our jaded age, the power of the Pope cannot be undersold. Witness the front-page treatment Pope Francis got in the New York Times and most newspapers across the planet when he issued an encyclical on the environment.
Here is a guy … pretty much a kind, humble little priest from South America who, because of his title as Pope, has the power to change the world with his words.
Now we consider Paul, the “voice of the people” who was not an original apostle, but became perhaps the most prolific, thanks to his many writings that date back to just a few decades after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.
Because Paul was not one of the original 12 and perhaps because he was not even a supporter of Christ (at first), Paul’s writings tend to connect well with those who are new to the Catholic faith or to those who are taking RCIA programs and learning for the first time about he beauty of the teachings.
So we have Peter, the fisherman turned “fisher of men”; and Paul, the former persecutor of the new Christians, but now one of the greatest – if not THE greatest evangelist or the faith. One would become the founder of the clerics, the other would become the voice of the people.
Both Peter and Paul contributed so much to the faith … but from different perspectives and different faith journeys. One could easily say the same about the messages of Pope Francis and the inner-city Catholic social worker – both of whom would like to change the world! And both of whom deserve a voice.
In the end, days like today remind us that the wisdom of the Truth of our faith does not always come from our Pope, but can also come from those we see in the pews.
Never underestimate that phone call, lest we let the person on the other end slip away.