Hey St Peter!
What’s up? (If Heaven is truly above us, then you would be up I guess) Thanks for taking care of the keys of Heaven and for continually praying for us to our Father in Heaven! Thanks for letting me write a letter to you (truly very honored to be writing to the first Pope)! I must say, it is truly an honor to be writing to the first Pope of the Church and the Rock on which Jesus build His Church upon. I think it’s quite fascinating for me to be able to converse with someone who has not only walked alongside Jesus literally but have continued to spread the message of Christ to all and have ultimately, paid the price through your death (my sincerest condolences). So many questions I have in my head, so little time (or space).
I think though, one question that I’ve always wondered about, especially more pertinent for you being the first Pope, is what you would think of the Catholic Church now. The very fact I have to specify the Catholic Church already implies the sort of divisions that have been occurring since your time as Pope (and maybe even during your time). After all, humans are filled with imperfections and personal pride, even if the Church itself is perfect through Christ. We have the Protestants, the Orthodox Churches and even within the Catholic Church itself, we have divides (currently between those coined as traditionalists and those who call themselves the progressives of the Church). I’ve heard that your relationship with St Paul wasn’t always the most friendly (didn’t actually know what happened in Antioch on that day though I’m sure you would know all the details). And yet, both of you are considered key saints in building up the early Church (your feast days are celebrated together after all) so I’d like to think there was something greater connecting both of you and that something was the love of Christ. Only through this love, could you have uttered such a line in your letter: “Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart.” (1 Peter 1:22). I wonder if we have somehow become so focused on the differences and the arguments (as you and St Paul had in Antioch) that we forgot that the two of you remain rooted in Christ and continued to love one another in spite of your arguments. I wonder if you look down from Heaven at times and shake your head just a bit seeing our divisions and our forgetting of the unity we have with one another in this Body of Christ and in this Church. In the words of St Augustine, have we forgotten that “”In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, diversity. In all things, charity”? I wonder.
I wonder how you would then solve such an issue St Peter? If you were a Catholic in this time and space, how would we begin tackling such an issue? I’m sure Catholics and Christians love each other (or at the bare minimum, I think they tolerate one another because we believe in the same God and the same Jesus Christ). But I think the important question is how do we navigate the differences and the tensions between the different dogmas and the different ideologies of sola scriptura, sola fide, sola gratia, solus Christus and soli Deo gratias with those held by the Catholic Church of the three pillars of faith? Should we simply revert back maybe to the olden days where the Church seemed to be much more simpler with its dogmas and ideology? In this case, we ignore the wisdom and the divine revelations given to us by our Church Fathers and the saints sent to us by God! We regress back into an age where we are, as lots of progressives put it, ancient and not relatable to the lives of people nowadays. And yet, it sometimes seem as though this division is not what we were supposed to be as a Church? Ultimately, I have no answers to these questions because if I do, then I wouldn’t really be writing a letter to you about them and seeking your wisdom in these matters would I? But I think we have made progress in this. And it all starts as you started on this road of discipleship St Peter: it all starts with us all journeying with Christ and falling deeper in love with him. As Pope Benedict XVI said “The unity of the Church is rooted in her union with Christ, and the complete unity of Christians – a cause which must be sought and renewed generation after generation – is also sustained by His prayer and by His promise”. May you continue to pray and intercede for us and to pray for our unity as one Body of Christ rooted and made perfect in Jesus. Amen.
© 2018 Christ Centered Conversations/Gregory Adrian Gunawan