The Apostolic Archetypes


So it goes ...
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My brother @wil mentioned the Apostolic Archetypes on a thread, so I thought I'd post.

I think there's been many attempts to retro-fit this idea onto the Twelve, with various degrees of success. Unity's 12 Powers, Jung's archetypes, are examples, although it all takes a bit of modelling to make it fit ...

Hans Urs von Balthasar had something to say, this is a précis:

At the Annunciation when Mary utters her assent: "Be it done unto me" (Luke 1:38), she becomes the archetype of the Church. In her 'yes' two realities meet: Creator and creature. Mary's complete readiness and acceptance to receive God unconditionally establishes the dimensions of the Catholic Church.

Her Yes is one of "active readiness".

von Balthasar sees Mary as the primordial archetype of the Church and other significant persons John the Baptist, Joseph, Mary Magdalen, Martha and Mary, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, as instances offering differing modes of access to the mystery of Christ.

Mary, then Peter on the one side of Mary, John on the other, and then Paul, the one "born out of due time" (1 Corinthians 15:8).

These apostolic archetypes of authority, love, and mystical revelation form in the Church, together with Mary, the Church's nucleus.

Taking the Symbolism of the Cross, Peter represents the horizontal axis, the level of history and the apostolic succession.

Paul bears witness to the vertical axis, directly from heaven – his 'Gospel' comes through revelation from God without human mediation.

John in a sense sits at the centre of the cross, his love the total gift of self to the other so that he is all but effaced – John never names himself, but speaks of himself as the one "whom Jesus loved" whereas he knows that Jesus loves all, a love that transcends person.

Peter's office is one of 'active love', according to Christ's threefold instruction in John 23:15-17, to feed my lambs, or feed my sheep. John's is a 'passive love' – however, Peter needs "the Johannine love" in order to fulfil his office. Johannine love expresses itself through Peter. It is John who mediates between the objective holiness of the Church in Peter and the subjective holiness of the Church in Mary.

John received Mary as mother, and Mary received John as son because John understood Mary's role in the work of salvation, signalled at Cana.

In Acts, John "remains" in the background – it is always "Peter and John", and since John is the anonymous one, commanded by Jesus to "stay", his place cannot be left vacant, and is filled primarily by the saints who always represent the link between the Marian and the Petrine in the Church, supporting both even when this seems to lead nowhere. The truly Johannine Church is not a "third", spiritual Church, supplanting the Petrine and the Pauline, but the one that stands under the Cross in place of Peter and on his behalf receives the Marian Church.
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