No one likes to look at their shortcomings. We want to be good, or at least have the appearance of good in front of others.
Scripture does not allow this with St. Peter. His many stumbles and foot-in-the-mouth occasions have been read about, studied, and preached about for over 2000 years. How embarrassing!
Joking aside, these blunders of St. Peter are actually of great benefit to us because they teach us what is important to God, and it is not about never making mistakes or getting things right all the time.
Jesus tells Peter,
“[…] I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers, (Luke 22:31-32).”
Jesus Prays For You
This is one of my favorite verses in the Gospel because in these few words so much is revealed about what God expects of us . . . and it is so different from what we usually think.
Jesus tells Peter here that he has prayed for him. Do you ever consider that Jesus prays for you?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (no. 2602) tells us, “Jesus often draws apart to pray in solitude, on a mountain, preferably at night. He includes all men in his prayer, for he has taken on humanity in his incarnation, and he offers them to the Father when he offers himself.” As our high priest, this prayer remains Eternal, and it includes you and me.
Can We Relate to Peter?
Consider again Jesus to Peter, “[…] I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.” Ouch! How often Peter must have contemplated these words of His Lord. At the time, he paid them little mind because his response was pure bravado,
“Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die with you, (Luke 22:33).”
And once you have turned back . . . these are the words of Jesus that should give us such hope. He knows us! He knows we will fail in our prayers, in our almsgiving, and in our acts of charity. By this time our great plans for growing spiritually through Lent, our bravado, may have failed but our faith endures. If we believe Jesus is the Son of God, then our faith has not failed, and the Father has answered Jesus’ prayer for us.
Let’s look again at Peter. After our Lord’s Passion and Death, we find him leaving Jerusalem and returning to his former life of fishing. He must have assumed he really messed up this time. No way is Jesus giving him the keys to the kingdom. Yet what happens? Jesus comes to Peter asking him three times to match Peter’s three denials if he loves him. Jesus is reminding Peter what matters to God is our faith. Peter responds three times,
“Yes, Lord, you know that I love you, (John 21:17).”
Strengthened By St. Peter’s Words and Faith
If you have stumbled this Lent, turn back and be strengthened in the faith and words of St. Peter, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of [your] faith, the salvation of your souls, (1Peter 3-9).”
Nan Balfour is a grateful Catholic whose greatest desire is to make our Lord Jesus more loved. She seeks to accomplish this through her vocation to womanhood, marriage, motherhood, and as a writer, speaker and events coordinator for Pilgrim Center of Hope.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.