Teri's Blog

A Reflection on the Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle

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The Rev. Teri Daily

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January 18th in the calendar of the Church is the Feast of the Confession of Saint Peter the Apostle, a day to remember the colorful ministry of Simon Peter.

Peter is no simple character in the gospels or in the book of Acts.  In fact, he’s often depicted as a person full of passion but sometimes falling short in the areas of impulse control, judgment, and steadfastness.  It was Peter who confessed, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God”; that same Peter, warming himself in the courtyard of the high priest’s residence the night before Jesus’ crucifixion, denied even knowing the Lord.  The faith that made Peter step out of the boat to walk toward Jesus on the sea faltered when a strong wind arose, and he began to sink.  On the night Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, saying “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me,” it was Simon Peter who then exclaimed, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”  That same impulsivity and passion would cause him later that night to draw a sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave.

Perhaps this complicated picture of Peter with all his struggles and missteps makes him seem more human than the other disciples—it certainly does give us cause to hope in our own paths of discipleship.  For Peter was given many second and third chances for redemption.  Only a few short weeks after denying Christ, it was Peter who at Pentecost stood and boldly proclaimed Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah.  Although Peter chastised Jesus for entertaining even the possibility that the Messiah would be crucified, tradition has it that he later asked to be crucified head downwards, saying “I am not worthy to be crucified as my Lord was.”  And of course, in the last conversation between Peter and Jesus recorded in the gospel of John, we find the question and commission that make Peter’s struggles fade into the background.  Jesus asks Peter:  “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  Peter replies, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”  And Jesus says to him, “Feed my sheep.”  Despite Peter’s very human frailties and his need to start over again and again, Jesus never ceased to call him deeper and deeper into a life of ministry.

The reflection on this feast day found in our Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2006 ends with this paragraph:

As we watch Peter struggle with himself, often stumble, love his Lord and deny him, speak rashly and act impetuously, his life reminds us that our Lord did not come to save the godly and strong but to save the weak and sinful.  Simon, an ordinary human being, was transformed by the Holy Spirit into the “rock,” and became the leader of the Church.

Peter never stopped growing in his faith; the Holy Spirit continued to transform him and give him the grace to participate in Christ’s work in the world.  So, too, may God give to us the grace to live more and more fully into our call to discipleship.