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The Rock: Saint Peter
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
When our Savior first met Simon, He told him, You are Simon son of John. This gives us the foundation for the Catholic Church on earth, because it is in Peter that the Church has her soundness, her security, and her assurance of possessing the Word of God. Certainly never in modern memory, and never perhaps in the Churchs history, has the Holy See (the See of Peter) been more assailed, and not only by the Churchs avowed enemies but even by so many of her own sons and daughters. But when we believe that the See of Peter is the See of Christ, we are believing that what that See teaches is the truth.
Revelation is filled with symbolic language, and as with so many figures of speech in revelation, we are likely to live with them, be inspired by their poetry, but not realize the profound depth that God reveals in this symbolic language. As a matter of fact, it is the only kind of language that God can use with us. Man has been defined as a symbolic animal. We live on symbols.
What does this symbol, rock, mean? Does it mean something physically solid? Evidently it means firmness, assurance, security. But behind that symbol, why exactly are we sure; what is our basis of security? The basis of our security is that we have the truth.
It is only truth that gives conviction, only truth that gives us certainty. It is because we are sure we have the truth that we can be so sure of our purpose in life, where we are going. And, when all the rest of the world may be floundering and wandering, we can be secure. Where is the truth that we are so certain of, in spite of the babel of voices all around us? It is finally, ultimately, and scandalously in what one human being teacheswhat faith that takes! We believe behind that human being is the Son of God. That same Son of God, the first time He met him, said, Oh, youre Simon now, but later And we know how Simonish Simon washow feeble, how unfaithful. But once he had been tested and humiliated and Christ finally gave him the Primacy, he became (and he has in his successors remained) the rock of security for everyone who believes that single human being has behind him protection from error from God.
How we need in these bewildering times to remind ourselves that we are standing on the rock, that we dont have to fear, provided we simply and humbly believe that Jesus (who is God in human form) has conferred on one human being what we call the Primacy. It is the firstness in security of teaching the truth.
I have prayed for you, Christ told Peter, so that your faith may be firm; and once you are confirmed in the faith, will strengthen your brethren. For this, we thank God. Let us pray that our faith in the Petrine Primacy may remain strong and especially among bishops and priests, that their faith in the See of Peter may remain constant, because it is especially on the bishops and the priests loyalty to the See of Peter that the faith of the rest of the Christian world depends.
Transcription of the Homily
Copyright © 1998 Inter Mirifica
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