We believe in one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church. One, because God is one so his Church too must be united. Holy, because the Church belongs to God and not any human. Catholic, because anyone can join the one holy Church and everyone ought to join. Apostolic, because the Church has an unbroken history going back to the apostles.
Jesus chose 12 apostles to conquer the world for the Kingdom of God, and these apostles, when their time on earth was coming to an end, chose successors from the Christian people. These successors were called “bishops”. These bishops chose bishops to succeed them, and so on. Today, our bishops stand in the continuous line of succession that goes back to the 12 Apostles, who were chosen by Jesus.
Today we commemorate the two greatest apostles. Peter, the Rock, was the leader of the twelve, the first human person to whom Jesus entrusted the care of the whole Church, the first Pope. Paul, was not one of the twelve, but he, nonetheless, was chosen and sent by Jesus Christ who appeared to him separately.
These two men, Saints Peter and Paul, made their way to Rome after accomplishing many things for the Glory of God. These two men died in Rome, were killed in Rome because of their faithfulness to Jesus Christ. By their deaths, they consecrated that city to be first among all the cities of the world, so that the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church would always look to the Church of Rome for leadership.
As we consider the readings today, we see a vitality in the apostles that we long for today. To hear Peter tell a paralyzed man to stand up and walk, “In the name of Jesus Christ”, makes us wonder what is missing in the Church today. Many people have broken the unity of the one Church in an attempt to return to the power of the Apostolic times, but only the Church of Peter and Paul can be truly apostolic. Nothing good can be found outside the Catholic Church that cannot also be found within her.
If we are looking for a secret that will renew the Church from within, we should look to the words of our Lord today. Love is that secret. Every other secret that has ever been suggested has come not from God but from the minds of fallen human beings, whether writing down secret wishes or formulating prayers with secret passwords or any other secret technique. There is only one secret: Love. Peter loved. Paul loved. Do you love? Do you love God above all else? Do you love each other as Jesus loved you?