In front of St. Peter’s Basilica, like two gigantic guardians of the faith, stand St. Peter and St. Paul.
St. Peter the fisherman. St. Paul the intellectual.
Peter the rough working class man who speaks from the heart. Paul the man who speaks from his head.
Peter the peasant. Paul the well-connected, well-educated Roman citizen.
Peter the humble believer. Paul the professional religious man.
Peter with the high school diploma. Paul who went to the Ivy League.
God chose them both, but he made Peter preeminent. He chose the simple man to be the Rock on which to build the Church.
We love the Catholic Church because she has a place for peasants and for princes. She makes room for the little child and the great patriarch. She has room for the sinner and the saint. She has a place for the magnificent and the humble, the duchess and the dustman.
Isn’t that how you expect it to be? Aren’t you suspicious of the Church that is for the country club set, the high falutin’ and not the hoi polloi?
Equally, aren’t you disappointed with the Church that has a kind of reverse snobbery—they’re only for the poor, the uneducated and the “ordinary folk.” I can remember, when I was in college, some preachers would put on a country accent to appear ignorant on purpose. They’d preach against “all them innerleckshuls”
Then on the other end of the extreme we have those Christians who are simply to tasteful, educated, urbane and highbrow to be true. They sneer at the lower classes, help the poor from a position of patronage and are more respectable than Her Majesty The Queen.
Likewise in our faith we should value the Peters and the Pauls—valuing learning while never forgetting the passion of the faith.
This article originally appeared June 29, 2017, at the Register.