Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Saints Peter and Paul in the Days of the Early Church

by M. J. Joachim

Saints Peter and Paul were leaders in the early Church. They became friends and often worked together to evangelize the faith. Both men came from extremely different backgrounds and experiences. Yet, both apostles, in time to be recognized as bishops, were called to commit themselves to the Catholic faith.

St. Peter, as we know, knew Jesus personally, and witnessed His ministry through His life, death and resurrection. St. Paul, on the other hand, persecuted Christians – even taking part in the stoning of St. Stephen, only to be unexpectedly converted through blindness, voices and quite possibly dreams or visions. Conversion was not a slam dunk for either man; both faced and dealt with internal struggles, eventually overcoming many weaknesses in the process.

Obviously, St. Peter’s personal relationship proved to be an invaluable asset in sharing the message that the Messiah had already come and offered salvation to all. I’ve little doubt that St. Paul learned a lot from St. Peter, just as I have little doubt that St. Peter learned a lot from St. Paul, much of which likely pertained to reaching people who did not have first-hand knowledge of who Jesus was and what His message was all about.

The early Church was Jewish. Remember, Christ was a Jew, and He didn’t come to abolish the law. Saints Peter and Paul both practiced their Jewish faith, enhancing it with Christianity when Christ touched their hearts. As they evangelized, new followers also were primarily Jewish; as such, they probably embraced Christianity as an enhancement to their Jewish faith, rather than a replacement for it.

Growing up isn’t easy, and the Catholic Church has gone through enormous growing stages throughout its history. The early Church undoubtedly has little resemblance to the Catholic Church of 2012. Its leaders were a group of highly energized men, working tirelessly to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. These men didn’t abandon what they knew (the Jewish faith) to do so – at least not right away. It took time for the “threat” of Christianity to rattle Jewish leaders, causing both parties to force a divide between Jewish and Christian faiths, based on fundamental differences, which made it impossible to remain as one.

Until next time, kind followers, I wish you every good thing!

M. J.

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Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Public Domain