– Memorial of St John Vianney –
“You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church.” [Matthew 16:18]
As Catholic Christians we have a strong belief in what is known as the Petrine Authority, that is, that the Bishop of Rome receives his authority directly from St Peter and that all other bishops share in this through the Apostolic Succession. And so today, when we hear the dialogue between Jesus and his disciples and listen to Peter’s great statement of faith, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” we may be tempted to think that Peter and the other apostles, that the Pope and the other bishops, are the rock, and we can leave this important business to them!
Very early in his pontificate, Pope Francis when asked who he was, responded simply, “I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.” When we explore the life of St Peter we discover a man of enthusiasm, a big-hearted man who was also quite vulnerable. I’m sure Peter would have been delighted with Francis’ declaration of himself as sinner.
So, re read this passage affirming your faith in the living God and replacing Peter’s name with your name. You too are the rock on which this Church is being built today. This places you in the good company of the saints and the sinners who down through the ages, like Peter and Francis, are big-hearted but also broken. This also gives you the task of proclaiming that Jesus is the Christ and that the reign of God is very near.
by Kari Hatherell osu