The life of Simon Peter, the Apostle, is a wonderful story about
human nature. He is so much like each of us. He knows his limitations
and past unfaithfulness early on in his relationship with Jesus. In
his boat by the lakeside he begs Jesus, “Leave me Lord. I am a sinful
man.” Again at the Last Supper he tells our Lord: “You shall
never wash my feet!” “If I do not wash you, you will have no part in my heritage.
Then my hands and head as well.” It’s a humble Peter growing in self-knowledge.
Then at Caesarea Philippi Peter answered, “You are the Christ.” Peter
must have felt he had arrived. Maybe the other apostles were more intelligent,
more holy, but he was the only one to proclaim Jesus the Messiah. And
for that God blessed him. But he also let Peter know that it was the
heavenly Father who gave him the grace to know this truth.
Seems like Peter forgot this circumstance. Later on when Jesus predicts
his passion and death, Peter decides to let the Lord know how things should
progress. “God forbid that any such thing should happen to you.”
Peter would take charge. Christ need not suffer. And Jesus plays
no favorites (as we heard in the first reading from James). In front
of all the disciples he lets Peter feel the sting of his rebuke. “Get
behind me Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”
Peter recovers fast. Again at the Last Supper he’s telling Our Lord:
“I will lay down my life for you.” Trusting in himself, once again
he falls flat on his face. Denying he knows Christ three times, he hears
the cock crow.
But after Christ’s Resurrection, at the brunch on the seashore, Peter is
again true to form. “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love
you.” He’s as much as saying; Lord if you’re God, and I believe you
are, then you know all things. You know that I love you. Don’t
ask me to prove it. I can’t. And don’t look at my track record.
It’s a disaster. But since you are God and know all things, you must know
that I love you. Finally Peter has begun to know himself and to know
God. No wonder he was Christ’s choice to feed the lambs and feed the