Today is the feast of Sts Peter and Paul and it’s very fitting that they share a feast day because the two men illustrate so well two specific natures of Christianity in General and the Catholic Church in Particular.
First look at the contrast, Peter the uneducated fisherman, the hothead, the loudmouth yet for all of those things is the first to declare Jesus as the Christ and is appointed the head of Jesus’ church on earth.
Paul the educated scholar, the pharisee, a Roman Citizen at the very top of the heap, a man well versed in the law yet so blind he could not see what a poor fisherman could until God literally wacks him upside the head and blinds him and a man sly enough to know how to play the Jewish factions against each other.
Two more different men you could not find yet both are united in being called by Christ and willing to accept that call despite horrible consequences.
That is the Catholic Church, the rich, the poor, the educated, the laborer, the sly, the hot tempered, all different types of people, united in the call of Christ and seeking to follow him.
Yet while this first nature reflects the Church well the 2nd which Peter and Paul had in common reflects it even better.
Paul the persecutor, who watched approvingly the stoning of Stephen, the man who admits openly that he does what he doesn’t want to do and works even harder for fear of losing his salvation.
And Peter, the man who up front tells Christ “Depart from me for I am a sinful man” the man who denies Christ Three times the man who even in his old age, by tradition has to be guilted by Christ to go back to Rome to face crucifixion.
The common thread, both were sinners, called to Christ and whose belief didn’t make them immune from sin or flaws, but made them able to overcome them through the forgiveness of Christ.
That is the best definition of a Christian there is, it’s also why those who attack Christians because they have flaws or sins demonstrate their ignorance. A Christian isn’t defined by lack of sin (though we do our best to avoid it) , a Christian is defined by striving toward Christ’s perfection despite our sins and flaws, sometimes falling, sometimes failing but always getting back up, asking for Christ’s pardon and carrying on