Starting with this blog, there is going to be a shift in what I write about Simon Peter. What was established in a recurring theme in my comments of the scripture is that Simon Peter was the most explicitly spiritually formed follower of Jesus in the gospels. He was also the first pope and set as a rock. Not as a symbolic rock nor with his confession being just foundational like a rock (for more discussion on this, I would recommend “Upon This Rock” by former Baptist Steven Ray and “The Fathers Know Best by another former Baptist Jimmy Akin).
But from here the ratio of Simon Peter’s spiritual formation will not be quite as emphasized. My writing has been on Simon Peter the work in progress 75% and the building of a pope being 25%. From here on, it may be more like 75% on the nature of the papacy and 25% on Simon Peter the sinner. Too strong? When Pope Francis was asked recently who he is most fundamentally he responded, “A sinner.” Infallible does not mean impeccable and we will see Simon Peter blow it in ways that can be done by us today.
Where we want to start today in Acts is in the first chapter. Jesus has gone to heaven and told them to stay in Jerusalem where they would receive power from on high in the Holy Spirit. In the meantime, they were missing Jesus as they were accustomed to having Him and there was no Holy Spirit given to the Church yet. I need to parse those words carefully because Jesus Himself breathed upon Simon Peter and the other apostles with the Holy Spirit when he instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But overall there must have been a feeling of being in limbo. Between Jesus as they knew Him and the Godhead as they were anticipating to know personally. They were also once apostle shy of an even dozen since Judas had left them.
So what does Peter do? He and the others were praying but they were also obedient to keeping consistent with the commands and patterns of Jesus and the scriptures, as they understood them. So many times in my time as a Christian I have heard believers including myself say the phrase, ”I am praying about it.” When they know that the scriptures are clear on that issue beyond any debate in the whole Body of Christ. This can often be Christianese for (a) I am waiting for a goose bump to inspire me to get off my butt and do what I am supposed to do or (b) I will read the Bible, harden my heart and do some intellectual gymnastics to justify disobedience.
But what if we are obedient, seeking God, know what we are supposed to do but want to do things that supplement that obedience? Below are some ideas as we today contemplate the Feast of Christ the King.
Acts 1:13 When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of[c] James.
Here, under the leadership of Peter, the Church prepares for the visitation of the Holy Spirit. They did not go just upstairs but to the same upper room as the Last Supper. It was in that same room that Jesus instituted the Eucharist (eucharistia), which means literally thanksgiving, but in mystogogy the partaking of Jesus in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. But that was not the only standard that is set for receiving the Holy Spirit when you look at Mary. Gabriel said that the Holy Spirit would overshadow her in the conception of Jesus.
This was important if you see her presence like former Pentecostal pastor Deacon Alex Jones. He makes a good point in how, hypothetically, in day five of the ten days that they waited for the Holy Spirit Bartholomew feels a goose bump. “This is it! It’s the Holy Spirit!”
Mary says, “No, that’s not it. I know the difference” (for more detail about Mary, this theme and others about her, I would recommend “Hail, Holy Queen” by former Presbyterian Dr. Scott Hahn).
Now we see Peter’s first act as the pope.
15 “In those days Peter stood up among the believers [d] [not the last times we will see this phrase] (together the crowd numbered about one hundred twenty persons) and said, 16 “Friends, [e] the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus— 17 for he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry.”
21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from us—one of these must become a witness with us to his resurrection.” 23 So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed and said, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen 25 to take the place [g] in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.
So what is the bid deal of this? If you are in the court of the king, and He is away, would you want to make sure that it is set up in order so that when He returns, it will be consistent with the pattern that he expects?
The references of Jesus being the son of David is not a waste of ink. The court of the kings of Judah, of the line of David almost always had the presence of twelve cabinet officials and a queen mother. Simon Peter knew that while they waited for the Holy Spirit to come and fulfill “Lo, I am with you until the end of the age”, the expectation should be with actively engaged faith so the King would be pleased. So yes, the queen mother is there and so are the cabinet members where He set up the prototype of the meal by which all His members would receive Him in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.
So how do we apply this blog for today? It can be done in two ways.
As individuals, on the things that are not clear from Sacred Scripture or Sacred Tradition, be faithful to what you have and follow what is clear accordingly.
As the corporate Body, treat every mass as the King’s court. Be prepared to receive the Eucharist (the ultimate thanksgiving), honor His mother as a model of receiving the Holy Spirit and revere the fact that His church is apostolic in that it is transferable to this day.