Very few people can live in isolation. We generally do better when we have people around to talk to, share stories with, and support us. I feel this is especially true when it comes to faith and religion. Here, I will attempt to share my thoughts and reflect on my spiritual journey -- I know this will further strengthen my faith, and I hope this will positively influence yours as well.  - CradleCatholic2.0

​​Follow St. Peter's Footsteps

 

by CradleCatholic2.0, for June 2018 Newsletter

 

There is a place on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel called the Church of the Primacy of Peter. Though the original structure was destroyed in the Middle Ages, the present church, built in 1933 and currently maintained by Franciscans, still serves as a solemn place of prayer. I found the site to be a very meaningful and peaceful setting during a recent trip to the Holy Land.

 

Church tradition indicates this place to be where the resurrected Jesus appeared to his disciples at the end of the Gospel of John (John 21). In the story, a man called out to unsuccessful fishermen from the shore and told them to cast their net on the other side of the boat. As a result of this instruction, the men caught so much fish their nets were overflowing. Simon Peter, one of the disciples on the fishing boat, recognized the man was Jesus, jumped into the water and swam to shore. Jesus had prepared a meal that featured fish and bread. Jesus also had a conversation with Peter where he asked Peter three times if he loved him. After each reassurance, Jesus commanded Peter to tend his flock, thus, establishing him to lead the church in Jesus’ absence.

 

Early Christians built the church over a rock purported to be where Jesus had that meal with his followers. Peter is a great example of how an encounter with Jesus led to a life changed. This simple Galilean fisherman became a fisher of men after saying yes to Jesus and following him. He had unique insight to Jesus’s divinity, was often the spokesperson of the disciples, and witnessed many of the miracles Jesus performed. He was present during the Transfiguration, was with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus was arrested, and was the first to enter Jesus’ empty tomb after his burial and resurrection. He was handpicked by Christ to build our Catholic church and expand the Gospel to the Gentiles and to the ends of the Earth. It is said that Peter will be guarding heaven’s pearly gate to let us in (or keep us out).

 

But there are accounts in the New Testament of how Peter was always putting his foot in his mouth. This future church leader had been wrong many times in front of Jesus to the point of being reprimanded by him. He failed tests of faith (remember when he boldly left the boat to walk on water with Jesus, got scared, and had to be rescued?) and loyalty (Peter denied Jesus three times). I think the greatest insight in Peter’s story is that a flawed, simple individual can be led by Jesus and the Holy Spirit to achieve great things through faith, obedience, and contrition. Peter was able to overcome his past mistakes to give that fiery speech on Pentecost that led to a conversion of 3,000 people. He lived up to being the rock of our church.

 

June 29 is the Feast Day of St. Peter (which he shares with St. Paul). Let us reflect on how we are called to be like St. Peter. We will experience times when we get hot-headed, when our faith is tested, when we could not stay awake for Jesus, and when we deny Christ. Peter’s life shows us that we can repent, be forgiven, and rise beyond our imperfections to show Jesus that we truly love him.

 

Happy June, and Happy Father’s Day for our dads, grandfathers, and godfathers!

 


 

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