By Father Timothy Gollob
Special to The Texas Catholic
Last month, while celebrating the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, I was reminded about the roles that these two Apostles played in the early Christian Church. Peter had listened to the personal teaching of Jesus and also he had been appointed to be the Rock on which the Church was to be built.
Paul, on the other hand, had excelled in his studies of the Jewish law. He had been flooded with zeal for the law. When he was abruptly blindsided while on a mission to suppress the “new” way, he had to reconsider his calling as he awaited a healing for his blindness on a street called Straight!
These two men had different backgrounds but one common faith.
Peter ended up giving the Good News to his Jewish brothers and sisters. Paul toiled ceaselessly to bring the Good News of salvation to all to the gentile world.
Peter, whom Jesus had called the “Rock,”at one point tried to talk Jesus out of being a suffering savior. Jesus called him a “scandal”… that is what a small pebble in one’s sandal was considered to be. Another time Peter was imitating his master by walking on water, but when he became frightened he began to sink like a rock.
Paul complained to God in his prayers about his weaknesses, but he was assured that God’s power would make those defects into strengths. Later his contentiousness put him at odds with Peter about how to preach the Gospel. He was open to all to whom the Holy Spirit came. Paul had heated words with Peter and the other Apostles about his theological dynamic of preaching to all people. After a period of reflection, Peter relented.
Many have asked how these two different pillars of the early Church could have collaborated with each other. They were able to hear each other’s point of view. How did they do that ? The answer is simple. They let the greatest of all the virtues rule them. That is charity.
St. Thomas Aquinas talks about this in one of the 3125 Articles in his “Summa Theologica.” With great philosophical precision, he brings up the reality of how charity is the form of all the virtues.
Faith is useless without love. Hope is sad without love. Power is futile without love. Forgiveness is powerless without love. Perseverance is impossible without love. Prayer is deceiving without love. Theology is divisive without love.
Our present situation of a split church, full of accusations and divisions, calls us to heed with much respect the words of St. Paul which he wrote to his beloved congregation at Corinth…. if we have not love, we are merely a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal!
Father Timothy Gollob is a retired priest of the Diocese of Dallas.