Friday, May 29, 2009

Do You Love Me?

St. Peter is my favorite disciple. When we read of Peter's life in the Gospels and later in Acts and Peter I & II, we see a man who is a simple fisherman, passionate, impulsive, trusting, speakings before he thinks, always wanting to do what Jesus wants. Peter was born Simon, in Bethsaida, the son of Johannes, a town on Lake Genesareth. His brother Andrew introduced him to Jesus, who pronounced "thou shalt be called Cephas" (Peter Latin for rock). Jesus told him and the other disciples He would make them "fishers of men" In Matthew's Gospel Peter first acknowledges who Jesus is: "He said to them, But whom say you that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." Just a few passages later Peter draws the ire of Jesus: From that time forth began Jesus to show to his disciples, how that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall never be unto thee. But Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an offense to me, because you are not thinking God's thoughts but human thoughts!" That's Peter who like myself would say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Peter represents all of us. He has a heart of gold, truly loves Jesus, but is stuck in his human ways. He takes the long way to get there...but he gets there. When the Risen Christ appears at the shore while they are fishing John immediately recognizes Him, but not Peter. When John tells Peter "it is the Lord" Peter, who had just a few days earlier betrayed Jesus, dives into the water and swims ashore, with complete trust in Christ's mercy and love. When Jesus presses him to answer the question "Do you love me?" Peter answers "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you" For anyone who has truly gotten to know Jesus that is the same answer they would give. For all our misgivings, for all the times we failed to live up as Christians, for all the times we ignored God and walked away, Peter is there expressing our own thoughts " know that I love you" He is the perfect individual to head up the Church. He's a "been there done that guy". And after the Holy Spirit comes to him at the Pentecost, the simple fisherman, becomes the Shepherd, on fire with a passion and a love for Christ. Peter writes " For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased " We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain. Therefore we regard the message of the prophets as confirmed beyond doubt, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp that is shining in a gloomy place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts." What incredible words even for today!

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