Rorate Caeli

Receive my words

Peter standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice and spoke to them: Ye men of Judea, and all you that dwell in Jerusalem, be this known to you, and with your ears receive my words. (Acts of the Apostles, from the Epistle for the Ember Wednesday of Pentecost)

This position of pre-eminence that Jesus meant to confer upon Peter is apparent also after the resurrection: Jesus charged the women to take the news to Peter, as distinct from the other Apostles (cfr Mk 16:7); it is to him and to John that Mary Magdalen rushes to inform them about the overturned stone at the entrance to the sepulchre (cfr Jn 20:2) and John allows Peter to go ahead when the two reach the empty tomb (cfr Jn 20:4-6); Peter would be the first among the Apostles to testify to an apparition of the Risen Lord (cfr Lk 24:34; 1 Cor 15:5).

His role, decisively emphasized (cfr Jn 20:3-10), marks the continuity between his pre-eminence among the apostolic group and the pre-eminence he would continue to enjoy in the community born from the paschal events, as attested in the Book of the Acts (cfr 1:15-26; 2:14-40; 3:12-26; 4:8-12; 5:1-11.29; 8:14-17; 10; etc.).

His behaviour is considered so decisive that it is the focus of observations and even of criticism (cfr At 11:1-18; Gal 2:11-14). Peter occupies a leadership role in the Council of Jerusalem (cfr At 15 and Gal 2:1-10) and it is precisely because of his being a witness to the authentic faith that Paul himself recognized in him a certain quality of “first” (cfr 1 Cor 15:5; Gal 1:18; 2:7ff; etc.).

Further, the fact that all the key texts referring to Peter can be traced back to the context of the Last Supper, when Christ confers upon Peter the ministry of strengthening his brothers (cfr Lk 22:31ff), reveals how the Church born from the paschal memory celebrated in the Eucharist, finds one of its constitutive elements in the ministry entrusted to Peter.

Benedict XVI, General Audience (June 7, 2006)
Transl. by AsiaNews