According to ancient tradition, on this day in AD 44, St. Peter completed his journey from the Near East and arrived in Rome.
Also according to ancient tradition, a week from today will mark the 1,978th anniversary of the day when Saul of Tarsus, en route to Damascus, heard Christ speaking from heaven.
The Holy Apostles bequeathed to us the Christian faith in its entirety. They bequeathed to us the New Testament and the essential and unchangeable usages of our religion.
The one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of Christ confesses the faith we have received from our heroic patrons, Peter and Paul and all the other Apostles. Among them, they founded countless local churches in every corner of the Roman Empire. Christianity became a far-flung, international enterprise.
Every word of the New Testament, though, bears witness to the tireless efforts of the Apostles to keep all the local communities united in the one Church.
We could even say that the New Testament itself serves as the first witness to the perennial quest for Christian unity. The documents were written to unite in the truth those who were divided by great distance, lack of knowledge, or misunderstanding.
So: Between these anniversaries of Peter’s arrival in Rome on the 18th of January and Paul’s conversion on the 25th, we pray especially for the unity of the Church.
We pray that we might have the humility, the insight, the courage, and the faith we need to heal the divisions that inevitably arise in the sinful course of human history.
I think the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity probably calls for a little talk on what we Catholics believe about the unity of the Church. I will try to provide something like that on Sunday.
In the meantime, let’s pray that all of us baptized into Christ might love the Lord and each other enough to live in the truth and help each other in every possible way.