St. Peter: The Rock on whom Jesus Built His Church

· Biblical,Bishop,Apostle,Priest

Not on the Short List

When Jesus selected Peter, He selected a man that might not have even made the list of possible candidates if humans had been selecting the human head of the Church.

Peter was impetuous, fiery, and despite his promises to stand by Christ, he denied Jesus three times when it really mattered. He was bold on the one hand, but apt to put his foot in his mouth. And, although Peter would have learned to read and write as a child living in Galilee, Peter was no scholar like St. Paul.

As far as we know, he spent his adult life fishing in the Sea of Galilee until he was introduced to Jesus by his brother Andrew. (Jn 1:40-42) At that point, the Lord changed his name to Kepha (an Aramaic word meaning rock which is usually written as Cephas in English).

Later, Jesus would call Peter from his fishing trade to follow Him and become a fisher of men. At this point, it seems Peter finally gave up his fishing business for good and cast his lot with the Lord. Despite being among the "inner circle" of disciples which also included James and John, Peter did not seem to grasp Jesus' mission any more than the other eleven disciples.

You are "Rock"

Immediately after being told by Jesus that he was the rock upon which the Lord would build His Church, Peter started to tell the Lord what He should do. Peter advised Him not to suffer, die, and to rise again. And, Jesus had to rebuke Peter only moments after making him the first pope.
However, Peter loved the Lord, and he was eager to show Him that He did. Of all of the disciples, only Peter asked the Lord to call him to come to Him when Jesus was walking on the water. When Jesus did, Peter did not hesitate but started to walk across the waves just as His Master did.
Then, Peter took his eyes off of the Lord and began to doubt, and he began to sink. When he cried out to Jesus, his beloved Lord saved him.
Peter did not want the Lord to wash his feet until Jesus told Peter that he would have not part of Jesus unless the Lord washed his feet. Then, in his typical enthusiasm, he asked Jesus to wash his hands and his head. And, the Lord had to let him know that it was enough to wash his feet.
Then, later at the Last Supper, Peter proclaimed that he would willingly die for Jesus. The Lord replied stating that Peter would deny him not once, but three times before the start of the next day.
As Jesus was being arrested, Peter cut off the ear of a slave, and the Lord had to heal the man's ear. Peter's three denials of the Jesus probably kept him from joining John at the foot of the cross. Instead of being at the cross, he was weeping in contrition for what he had failed to do when he was given the opportunity, namely stand up for Jesus.

Restored by the Lord

Even after the resurrection, Peter goes back to what he knows best--fishing. Jesus comes to him as Peter and the other disciples are out in a boat fishing on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus calls to them from the shore and helps them catch a huge catch of fish. (It is worth noting that in Scripture the disciples are only recorded catching fish with the Lord's help.) Peter realizes it is the Risen Lord and jumps into the water to swim to the shore and see Jesus. Then, later, the Lord forgives Peter for his denial and commissions him three times to feed the sheep.
All of these episodes show us the Peter is indeed very human. He is himself with his enthusiasm, love for Jesus, and weaknesses. Even when he stumbled badly, the Lord continue to love him and he would forgive him. And the Lord continued to purify Him as Peter allowed Him.

The Later Years

Over the remaining years of his life, Peter would continue to let the Lord change Him. He received the grace that the Lord gave him to guide the early Church, to lead the way to receiving Gentiles as believers, and to be changed as a person. Eventually, Peter would be able to lay down his life for the Lord and to be martyred in Rome.
The Lord chooses whom He wants, and Peter is the one that He wanted to be the rock upon which He would build His Church. And the reason that the powers of death do not prevail is not because of Peter or any of his successors, it is because the Church is the Bride of Christ and the Lord will preserve His Bride.

We are called into the Lord's Church and enter in through baptism. We, too, of course, are very human, like Peter. And, like Peter, we are called to cooperate with the Lord and the grace He gives us in order to be faithful members of the Church and to work to support the mission of the Church. We, too, are called to let the Lord purify us and help us grow in humility in order that we may be conformed to be like our Savior. And, thanks be to God, when we stumble and fall, we can be forgiven through the sacrament of confession in order to be restored to full communion with the Lord and His Church.

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Feast Days:

February 22nd (Feast of the Chair of Peter)

June 29th (Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul)

August 1st (St. Peter in Chains)

November 18th (Feast of the Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts. Peter and Paul)

Patron of fishermen

Patron of popes

Patron of the Universal Church

Patron of backers

Patron of watch makers

Patron of shoe makers

Patron of bridge builders

Patron of locksmiths

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