Archive for the ‘St. Peter’ Tag

Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles and Martyrs (June 29)   13 comments

Above:  St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican

An Odd Couple


The Assigned Readings for This Feast:

Ezekiel 34:11-16

1 Timothy 4:1-8

John 21:15-19

Psalm 87

The Collect:

Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified you by their martyrdom: Grant that your Church, instructed by their teaching and example, and knit together in unity by your Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, which is Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


St. Peter and St. Paul began their life courses on different paths yet ended on the same route, as the greatest Christian leaders of their generation.

St. Peter, born Simon, was one of the Twelve Apostles.  Impetuous, often speaking before he thought or understood, even denying Jesus three times shortly before the crucifixion, he became the rock of faith Jesus predicted he would become.  At the Pentecost immediately following the resurrection St. Peter addressed the crowds as the leader of the surviving apostles.  St. Peter, once a firm believer in kosher laws and separation from Gentiles, abandoned those attitudes through divine and human influences.

St. Paul began life as Saul of Tarsus, a militantly devout Jew who persecuted Christians until he became a Christian.  After digesting his conversion experience for a few years St. Paul set out on missionary journeys in which founded churches, wrote epistles, suffered imprisonments and other hardships, and spearheaded the effort to take the message of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles without imposing Jewish strictures on them.  St. Paul was a well-educated, intelligent, and opinionated man with a great amount of intellectual arrogance, which is evident from this writings.  The epistles he wrote physically, dictated while in prison, and otherwise influenced account for 14 of the 27 books of the New Testament.

Both men died at Rome in 64 C.E., during the Emperor Nero’s persecutions of Christians.  St. Paul died by beheading with a sword, and St. Peter by crucifixion upside-down.  He claimed to be unworthy to die as Jesus did because he had denied him.

These men were like us in many ways.  None of us is perfect.  Be honest about yourself; do you not have certain grave faults and destructive or off-putting tendencies?  The stories of Sts. Peter and Paul teach us that these need not be obstacles to doing God’s work.  God does not call the qualified; God qualifies the called.


JUNE 12, 2010


Posted June 12, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Bishops of Rome, June 29, Saints of the Bible

Tagged with ,

Feast of the Confession of St. Peter the Apostle (January 18)   12 comments

Messianic Expectations


The Listed Lections for This Feast Day:

Acts 4:8-13

Psalm 23

1 Peter 5:1-4

Matthew 16:13-19

The Collect:

Father, who inspired Simon Peter, first among the apostles, to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of the living God: Keep your Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith, so that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the one Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


I have chosen to list the assigned readings, provide the collect, and proceed directly with my thoughts for the Feast of St. Peter the Apostle.

The assigned portion of Matthew (16:13-19) sounds well and good.  In it St. (Simon) Peter, brother of the apostle St. Andrew, a fellow partaker in the family business (fishing), confesses to Jesus that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” as The Jerusalem Bible renders the Greek text.  Then Jesus makes the following statement:

You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church.  And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind of earth will be considered bound in heaven; whatever you loose on earth shall be considered loosed in heaven.

Thus we have a text the Roman Catholic Church uses to justify the existence of the Papacy, as  well as the origin of the popular image of Peter with the keys to Heaven.  Yet I do not care to explore the veracity of the Papal office at this time or place.  It is sufficed to say that I am an Episcopalian, not a Roman Catholic, and to leave the issue at that.

No, I care most about what follows in Matthew 16:20-28.  Jesus predicts his torture, death, and resurrection, but Peter protests, saying “this must not happen to you.”  Then Jesus rebukes Peter, saying, “Get behind me, Satan!  You are an obstacle in my path, because the way you think is not God’s way, but man’s.”  Next Jesus addresses the apostles, telling them that they must take up their crosses and follow him.

So, why did Jesus speak kindly to Peter in one moment and harshly in the next?

When Peter was in Jesus’ orbit the Romans had occupied the Jewish homeland for nearly eight decades.  Many people harbored expectations that the Messiah would liberate the Jews and expel the occupying forces.  This was understandable, given the circumstances.  It was certainly what Peter hoped.  Yet Jesus was not that kind of Messiah.  The author of the Gospel of Mark understood what kind of Messiah Jesus was:  The Messiah came to die, not to conquer, and his Messiahship became clear in his death.  The technical term for this is the Messianic Secret, and Peter knew nothing of it at the time of his celebrated confession of faith.

Yet Peter understood after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and devoted the rest of his life (until his martyrdom by being crucified upside-down) spreading news of Jesus.  So let us be kind to Peter, for, if we were in his place at the time, we might have misunderstood, also.


JUNE 11, 2010



Modified Slightly on January 25, 2011

Posted June 11, 2010 by neatnik2009 in Bishops of Rome, January 18, Saints of the Bible

Tagged with