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"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20

 

St. Peter (the Human)

Laura DeMaria

Below is adapted from the allocutio I will deliver this evening at our weekly Legion of Mary meeting. The allocutio is a talk given by either the spiritual director or the President (me) on a topic from the handbook (Legio Mariae). This week's topic is St. Peter, a patron saint of the Legion.

·         Ch. 24, The Patrons of the Legion: Part 8: St. Peter

·         Frank Duff describes him as the “prince of the apostles” and therefore, naturally, a patron of an apostolic organization such as the Legion of Mary

·         Also, invoking Peter expresses a loyalty to Rome

Last week I went to the kickoff of this summer’s DC Theology on Tap and heard a fantastic speaker, Leah Libresco, talk about St. Peter. Her take was very interesting, and I’d like to share a few of her talking points.

For one, she started from the very familiar place of, “Peter is not perfect.” Yet, despite the fact he is not perfect, he is also the apostle who was chosen as the “rock” of the church, the one on whom Christ relied to continue his mission. This was, of course, intentional. Jesus did not choose St. John the Beloved to fill this role. He chose Peter.

Secondly, Peter seems to get a bad rap in terms of faith and fidelity. We all know the story of Peter’s denial of Jesus at the Crucifixion. Then there was the time when Jesus walked across water and called Peter to him out of the boat – at which point evidently Peter’s faith failed and he fell crashing into the water. The lesson we always hear in church during that reading is to not be like Peter. Have better faith.

But Leah said she saw this as a harsh reading. For one thing, Peter asked to come to Jesus. He was seeking God. And another, as soon as he falls, Peter cries out for help, saying, “Jesus, help me!” In other words, he tried to reach God, fell short, but still turned to Him for help.

So Peter is imperfect. So what? So are we. And out of Peter’s imperfection, God found strength for the foundation of his church. This reminds me of the readings from two Sundays ago, St. Paul’s powerful words in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

This is, perhaps, one of the most critically important things we can understand, and really live, as Christians. It is also one of the hardest. It requires humility not natural to the human condition, and a trust in God that, for many of us, must be learned.

But if we were perfect, if we had no faults, shortcomings, or lessons to be learned, there would be no point to life. There would be no reason for God to exist, and no avenue for us to develop a relationship with him. It is a wonderfully beautiful concept, to see that God comes to us in our weaknesses, fills us with Grace, and makes us stronger. Your weaknesses are not mistakes or errors in your design. They are, in fact, the most fundamental part of your design, the piece which brings you closer to Him.

And this must be why Peter was chosen. Not only can we see in him a pattern for our own lives as a truly faithful servant of God, but as a vulnerable human, just like us, who sometimes struggled to understand. Jesus chose Peter, just as He chooses us. Have faith in the fact that Jesus sees your struggle and loves you for it, as you lean on His strength and his heart. It is exactly what he wants of us.