by HFH Reuvers


Simon Peter was a fisherman from Galilee. Jesus chose him as one of the twelve apostles. We have seen how Jesus appointed him his substitute on earth. Thus he became the first pope. However, it lasted several centuries before the primacy of the bishop of Rome was clear to all Christians.
In the Gospel, Peter appears as a spontaneous fellow who would go through fire and water for Jesus, but who also denied Jesus during his passion. After the resurrection and ascension of Christ, Peter and Paul founded the Church together under much oppression. In the reign of emperor Nero, Peter was crucified upside down because of his Christian belief. The pope who succeeded him was a certain Linus, about whom we don't know very much.

Paul had a Roman father and a Jewish mother. At first he persecuted Christianity that began dawning after Jesus' death and resurrection. However, on his way to Damascus he had a vision in which the same Jesus asked him to be converted. Who can resist such a request?
Although Paul wasn't one of the twelve, he gloriously did earn the title "apostle". We call him the "apostle to the gentiles" because he emphasized that faith suffices to be a Christian, and Jewish law needs no longer be obeyed. Even more so than Peter, he left his mark upon the expansion of Christianity. He travelled through the Greek speaking part of the Roman Empire and founded local church communities everywhere. Later on, he wrote his famous epistles to these communities.
In the years sixty of the first century, emperor Nero had Paul executed because of his Christian belief, like Peter. However, being a citizen of Rome, Paul could not be crucified like Peter. He was beheaded instead.

Saint Paul likens the Church to a body:
"God composed the body in such a way that He gave the lesser parts more honour, so that there couldn't be any discord and the members would unitedly care for each other." (1 Corinthians 12, 24,25).
It's the weaker things that best show the power of Christ.