I don’t remember a lot about my first communion. But I do remember a song we had to sing together as a class – I’d like to forget the song but I cannot – one verse went like this: “Peter built the Church on the rock of our faith…his banner over me is love” There were actions and we loved to bang our fists together – shouting “ROCK” as loud as we could!
A very catchy song, very cute – but completely false!
Peter did not build the Church on the rock of our Faith.
Jesus built the Church on the rock of peter.
Jesus is the builder of the Church – not peter, not paul, not the other apostles, not the popes, not you, or me. Jesus built the Church and it Jesus who guides the Church, it is Jesus who nourishes and strengthens the Church by the sacraments.
Jesus Built the Church, but he built it on the rock of Peter. Jesus is the builder of the Church, but the material he uses is the saints – men and women like you and me. Today we celebrate the two great saints – Peter and Paul whom we can say were in some way the foundation stones of the Church. Two great evangelists who were crucial in bringing the Gospel to the Roman world.
Jesus is the builder of the Church – and the material of the Church is the saints. This was true and the beginning of the Church and it is true today. Jesus wants to build up his Church, strengthen the Church and expand the Church and he wants to use you and me.
This truth means we ought to be humble, we ought to be docile, and we ought to have confidence.
We ought to be humble. Peter and Paul are famous – but their most important work is not know to us – the many people they met with and befriended and taught. Even Paul’s letters – they were never written to be bestsellers or classics – they were practical letters written to specific Christian communities to help them in following Christ. Peter and Paul were hard workers for the sake of the Gospel.
The most important parts of a building are not the most beautiful. The decorative items are things we constantly like to change – move around the furniture, change the carpet, repaint etc. The foundation, the supporting beams, these things are often hidden – and yet they support the whole building. As members of the Church we want to be the foundation – that holds the building together – but is not in the spotlight, that is hidden. This means hard work, and constant prayer without seeking glory.
Peter and Paul were docile. They knew that what they were doing was not their own personal project. They were convinced that their message was not from them – and thus they remained obedient to the message received from Christ even when this meant suffering for them and eventual death.
Once of my classmates was an engineer and he joked a lot about architects – he architects would come with unrealistic plans and then expect the engineers to somehow make it work. Sometimes these engineers would come back and say “This design is impossible – if we build what you want, it will fall over.” Sometimes we are tempted to try and make ourselves architects of the Church to say – the church ought to be like this or teach this, or have 5 or eight sacraments instead of 7, or have no popes or bishops. Like St. Peter and Paul we need to trust that Jesus is the architect of the Church and the builder of the Church. He knows what he is doing! Whatever we build on our own is doomed to collapse.
We ought to have confidence. Peter and Paul were bold – despite the fact that they were part of a very small minority against the great Roman Empire and all it’s wickedness and excess. Today as Christians we are often timid – we are embarrassed to be Christians. We say – these times are different, they are harder because we no longer live in a Christian culture. Niether did Peter and Paul – Yet they had confidence and boldness because they were convinced that what they were doing was not just their own project, but that they were called by God and God was using them. We must have this same conviction, knowing that what we are doing is with God and for God and that we are assured of victory!
Jesus built the Church upon the Rock of Peter and Paul – he continues to build the Church using you and me. Let us be humble and docile, shaped in the form desired by the master builder, let us be confident, knowing that what we do is not our own project, but the Lord’s and thus we cannot fail.