Partnership of the Apostles…
The Apostles, the early leaders of the Church, created a partnership to share the Gospel:
…and when they recognized the grace bestowed upon me, James and Kephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas their right hands in partnership, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. -Galatians 2:9, NAB
The early Church may not have had the same presence as it does today, but its strength came in the bonds between Christian brothers – fortified by the Holy Spirit. The partnership of the Apostles ensured that the true Gospel could continue to spread throughout the world.
At one time, because of their small numbers, I imagined that the early Christians were a loose group of individuals teaching others about Christ. Here, in today’s verse, we see that they did communicate with each other regularly and formed the beginnings of the Church’s hierarchy.
St. Paul recognizes the position of Ss. James, Peter (Kephas), and John as Christ’s Apostles, but he, too, was an Apostle. St. Paul, along with Barnabas, continued to spread the Gospel to the Gentiles; meanwhile, the other Apostles focused on their Jewish brothers.
The partnership of the Apostles continues today through the work of our bishops. Each bishop, archbishop, and cardinal tends to his flock individually, but as a collective, they work together and serve as the pillars of the modern day Church.
Their work is delegated down to local priests and deacons who form a partnership of their own within their local dioceses and archdioceses. The strength of the Church, then, comes from its unity, from local priests and deacons to our bishops and Supreme Pontiff.
The key to any successful organization is working in unison toward the same goal. The Catholic Church has mastered this since the time of the Apostles, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, will continue to do so for generations to come.