Friday, August 5, 2011

Daily Reflection - Saint Peter

Everyday I get an email from St. Monica's Parish in Indianapolis with a reflection on that day's reading. I really like the one I received today because it reminds us to not dwell on another's weakness but to find their strengths and what they can share with us using those strengths. It is so easy to recognize weakness - let's look harder.

Our  reflection on Thursday’s Readings:

You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church (Mathew 16:18)

When reading scripture or hearing the readings when I attend Mass, I am fascinated by the life of Peter and would love to know more about him.  He seemed so human to me as he seemed to constantly “miss the point”.   He seemed to be a very reactive person instead of thinking before he acts.  What is more astonishing is that Jesus sees something different in Peter.  He says to Peter, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church (Mathew 16:18).
 So even through Peter’s betrayal of Jesus or acting in ways that was opposite to the teachings of Jesus, Jesus still embraces him as the foundation of the Church!  Jesus must have seen other qualities in Peter that he loved and trusted that even through such weakness his strengths prevailed. 

I think this is what Jesus sees in Peter.  He teaches us today that if His teachings are to come alive that we need to focus on strengths within one another versus the weaknesses that burden them.  What a beautiful gift Jesus shares with us today and an incredible gift we can give to others.  How many times a day do we spend frustrated that others in our lives did not fulfill our expectations or have disappointed us because we focused on their weaknesses versus the strengths they have to offer us.  I believe Jesus recognized the weaknesses in Peter and was quite direct with Peter when he “missed the point”.  He did not ignore this side of Peter but He did not hold on to the weaknesses of Peter and judged him every time he did or said something.   It seemed that Jesus addressed his weakness when it was appropriate and then moved on with only seeing the strengths of Peter.  Peter is a great example for us as we too struggle to find the gifts people have to share with us. ---Margarita Solis Deal

To be honest, I am not terribly knowledgable about the Saints. Being a convert to the Catholoic faith I am slowing learning more and more about these great men and women. They were so much braver than a lot of people think they could ever be sometimes. However, put in a certain situation you never know what strength we can find in ourselves for our Lord.

In the case of Saint Peter, I always knew he was the disciple closest to Jesus and that he was probably considered a rabble rouser. But I never knew, or at least did not remember, how he was martyred. So I did some research and here is what I found out about Saint Peter.

He is recorded more than any other disciple, and was at Jesus’ side at the Transfiguration, the raising of Jairus’ daughter, and the Agony of the Garden of Gethsemane.

He helped organize the Last Supper and played a major role in the events of the Passion.

When the Master was arrested, he cut off the right ear of a slave of the high priest Malchus and then denied Christ three times as the Lord predicted. Peter then “went out and began to weep bitterly”.

After the Resurrection, Peter went to the tomb with the “other disciple” after being told of the event by the women. The first appearance of the Risen Christ was before Peter, ahead of the other disciples, and when the Lord came before the disciples at Tiberias, he gave to Peter the famous command to “Feed my lambs.... Tend my sheep.... Feed my sheep”.

In the time immediately after the Ascension, Peter stood as the unquestionable head of the Apostles, his position made evident in the Acts. He appointed the replacement of Judas Iscariot; he spoke first to the crowds that had assembled after the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost; he was the first Apostle to perform miracles in the name of the Lord; and he rendered judgment upon the deceitful Ananias and Sapphira. Peter was instrumental in bringing the Gospel to the Gentiles. He baptized the Roman pagan Cornelius, and at the Council of Jerusalem he gave his support to preaching to Gentiles, thereby permitting the new Church to become universal. Imprisoned by King Herod Agrippa, he was aided in an escape by an angel. He then resumed his apostolate in Jerusalem and his missionary efforts included travels to such cities of the pagan world as Antioch, Corinth, and eventually Rome.
According to rich tradition, Peter was crucified on the Vatican Hill upside down because he declared himself unworthy to die in the same manner as the Lord. He was then buried on Vatican Hill, and excavations under St. Peter’s Basilica have unearthed his probable tomb, and his relics are now enshrined under the high altar of St. Peters.

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