13th Sunday Year C
Feast of the apostles Ss. Peter and Paul
Simon of Bethsaida, Saul of Tarsus, Captives of Christ in Rome!
(Jn.15-19; Gal 1: 13ff; and 5: 1; 15ff.)
1 – Peter and Paul in Rome
Rome is not the capital of Christianity but certainly it is Jerusalem, mother and heart of all Churches. It is “the City of the great King”; that of the Redemption, of the Resurrection, and of Pentecost, the date that marks the birth of the Church. These reflections are meant to put an end to all “objections” that are damaging and ill-founded; true, the Primacy of Peter was declared by Jesus at Caesarea Philippi, Paneas (today known as Banias). Paul is nothing more than a slave or a servant of Jesus-Christ, not in the least “the founder” of Christianity, as perceived, without any valid argument, by rationalists and some non-Christians, particularly the zealots of the Torah and the Sharia (the Islamic law that is comparable to the Old Testament’s and Rabbinical exigencies) who are offended by the anti-legalistic Pauline attitudes, all the more “detestable” positions that come from a former senior Pharisee!
Yes, it is appropriate to clarify the concepts and meet the challenges of faith and reason before embarking on a spiritual and pastoral discourse.
St. Peter visited Rome and became martyr there!
Already Protestant historian Harnack had the honesty to admit it. The Italian archaeologist Margherita Guarducci in her masterful book “The tomb of St Peter” provided proof in a very clear and scientific means the authenticity of the tomb of St. Peter in the Vatican. If the Catholic Church, already with Pius XII, had delayed the publication of the discovery of St. Peter’s tomb specifically for ecumenical reasons and to spare the sensibilities of some non-Catholics, the truth could not have remained hidden forever, especially since the truth is not opposed to charity in any way. St. Paul wrote about that in all his epistles to the Ephesians and other Christians “acting according to truth in charity” (4:15).
During the “Year of St. Paul”, with Benedict XVI the great, the tomb of the “apostle of nations” was discovered outside the walls of Rome.
St. Peter, in his First Letter (5:13), spoke about “which was elected from Babylon”; which means the Church of Rome, of the Church in Rome, wherefrom he wrote with his spiritual “son”, St. Mark. Irenaeus of Smyrna and other Fathers of the Church as well as Arab writers, among whom were Al Mas’oudy, confirmed beyond doubt the Roman sojourn of the prince of the apostles.
What about the feast of 29 June? It seems that pagan Rome celebrated on that day the twin founders of the Urbs, Romus and Remus. In its maternal wisdom, the Church saw fit to have it replaced by the holy martyr apostles, founders of “the Holy Roman Church, worthy of all praise, that institutes a light for all Churches under the sun” (St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem), this Church of Rome “that presides over the brotherhood with love” (St. Irenaeus).
2 – “Cherished liberty” or “freedom of the flesh”?
The apostle Paul had warned the Galatians, ancestors of the Gauls! He continues to do so particularly after the triumphal approval of “gay marriages” that are not “marriages” irrespective of what is said! Here is the apostolic warning that is always valid: “So that freedom does not turn into (or does not continue to be!) a pretext for the flesh!” (Gal. 5:15). In recent decades, probably more specifically since 1968, the “freedom” of morals was promoted, particularly during the “students’ unrest” by Marc or Cohen-Bendit. Unions, still heterosexual, were made without a marriage contract, which, in the first place, eliminated or avoided marriage in Church, later on omitted the civil marriage. The “flesh” took the upper hand, in scorn of “all faith and every law”. After the legalization of abortion (not to mention suspicious and dangerous contraceptives), we have now not only gay marriage and the very negation of gender diversity, but we subject it to the arbitrary!
This “freedom”, is the executioner of Christianity and of humanity! However, in the East, in the world of Islam, freedom is sacrificed on the altar of “religion” and of “morals”; there is no religious liberty for Moslems (in fact, none of their countries voted for article 18 of the Charter of human rights and freedoms with the exception of Bourgiba’s Tunisia). A Moslem woman is not free to marry a non-Moslem, who would have to convert to Islam if he were to marry her. Non-Moslems do not have the right to preach their faith to Moslems whereas in contrast these last are allowed to Islamize… that without making mention of the absence of civil and political liberties in the countries of the Middle East and North Africa among others…
The Right Freedom
We are free whenever we follow the truth; we are free whenever we control our instincts. This is rightfully the “freedom of the children of God!”
Fr. P. Madros
English version by Antoine Dominique Nesnas