Acts 11:1-18 Reflection:
This is the story of Peter being asked to give an account of his actions by the other disciples and apostles. Peter had earlier gone to the house of Cornelius and baptized his family. The others heard this and were wondering what he was doing as Cornelius was a gentile.
Peter came along and gave an account of himself that satisfied his fellow
apostles and disciples. However, as I read this piece a second time, something struck me that I had never seen before: Peter, when he had his original vision, did not consider it necessary to go to the others and discuss it with them, he assumed the authority to act on his own initiative.
For me this says a lot about the primacy of Peter. Any of the other apostles and disciples would have felt the need to give an account of their behaviour. Indeed, even Paul went up to Jerusalem to tell the brethren what he was doing and about his mission to the gentiles.
When we think about it there are examples of Peter’s authority all throughout the New Testament; when the apostles are asked a question by the Lord it is always Peter who speaks up and answers. The others know that he is the leader, and there are so many times that Peter is named first and set apart from the others.
This ‘gift of authority’ as Cardinal Basil Hume once referred to it, is a great unifying force in our church. We all look to the pope for what the church teaches and look to him for leadership when big questions come up. The Catholic Church is a wonderful gift from God.