Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Peter, numero uno?

For 40 years I never thought of Peter as having a higher position than any of the other apostles. He was one of the 12. That is all.

Then I became Catholic.

As with all those things that run counter to Protestant theology, I had to dig in and figure out why the Church talked about the Primacy of Peter. Why should we consider him the first Pope?

I reread the text - and clearly, Peter is the Rock. Upon this Rock, Christ has built the Church.

Then I read passages in which Peter clearly is leading the way. A careful reading of the Acts of the Apostles proves this.

But I missed something obvious, something I should have seen even as a child.

I did not realize that every Gospel list of the 12 Apostles always has two things in common. Judas Iscariot is dead last.

And St. Peter is always, always first.

Clearly, the Primacy of Peter is everywhere in Holy Scripture. This Apostle becomes a kind of Prime Minister of the Church, like Eli'akim in Isaiah. Even the passages describing Eli'akim and Peter are all too similar to be dismissed. Peter holds the keys.

In college fine arts classes, every painting we studied had Peter holding the keys. There is a reason for this. Time out of mind, Peter has been numero uno, the Rock, the Prime Minister of the Church, the Keeper of Kingdom Keys. The greatest artists of all time merely reproduced on canvas what the Church throughout time has known and taught. Peter is the first pope.

I still don't know how I missed it for four decades. But I did. Not any more. I read Holy Scripture with my eyes wide open.


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