On the night of 24th of May, 1989 a two-story building of 30 meters long of the La Salle Brothers at Thanh Da suddenly collapsed and disappeared at the bottom of the river, destroying everything inside and killing five brothers. The reason for the collapse of the building was that it had been built on a weak foundation of sandy soil.
The Church is also a building, which was built, not on a weak foundation of sand, but on a foundation of solid rock, which are the apostles of Jesus Christ himself. In the words of
to the Ephesians : “You are the building whose foundations are the apostles and prophets,
and whose cornerstone is Jesus Christ. In him the whole structure is joined
together and rises to be a holy temple in the Lord.” (Eph.
2, 19-22). Jesus Christ himself asserted the stability of the Church when
he told Peter : “ And now I say to you : “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build
my Church; and never will the powers of the devil overcome it.” (Mt 16, 18). St Paul
For two thousand years, many people have not taken the words of Christ seriously and they have tried to test the strength of the Church to see how strong it is. More than 300 years, Roman Emperors, one after another, did all they could with the hope of wiping out the Church; then kings of countries in Africa, Asia, in China, in Japan and in Vietnam launched savage and prolonged persecutions against Christians everywhere, applying all kinds of threat, torture, punishment and death, only to find out that they had done that in vain. They all perished, their empires destroyed, but the
remains and stands even stronger as years go by. Church of Christ
We Vietnamese often say “Trứng chọi với đá; châu chấu đá voi”; and the equivalent expression in English “Run one’s head against a stone wall” Men fighting against God is no less than running their heads against a stone wall : they will certainly end up either in breaking their heads or in killing themselves. For the strength of the Church, first and foremost, comes from God, not from men.
As far as human elements are concerned, the Church is just like any other human organization with human persons, who are fragile, mistaken and prone to failure. But the
is not only human,
it is also divine, that is, founded by God, led by God and tends towards God.
Being both human and divine, both visible and invisible, the Church takes all
its life and strength from God alone – this life and strength being realized in
the apostles, especially in Saint Peter and Saint Paul, who are the foundation
of the Church. Church
Today, the we celebrate the solemnity of Saint Peter and
, the two great apostles of the
Church. Leading different lives and dying in different ways, they both gave
their undaunted witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ : saint Peter
preached to the Jews and was crucified on the cross, while Saint Paul proclaimed the Gospel to the
gentiles and was beheaded, but both shared the same ideal, the same faith in
God and Jesus Christ. They lived for the same ideal and faith, they also died
for the same ideal and faith. saint Paul
Both of them did prove their unquenchable love for, and loyalty to, Jesus Christ. Peter once professed his faith, saying : “ Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” (Jn 21, 17). “Even though I have to die with you, I will never deny you.” (Mt 26, 35). And
declared : “I consider everything a loss because of
the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my
Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I
may gain Christ.” (Philippians
3, 8). They
deserved to be pillars of the Church, the rocks on which Jesus Christ built his
Church, so firm, strong and stable that the forces of the devil can never
overcome it. Saint Paul
May the two Apostles strengthen our faith in God and warm up our zeal, teaching us to love God and be faithful to him to the end, in spite of any difficulty and adversity we would encounter in our lives.
Fr. Joseph Nguyen, O.P.