“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”
Day Five of Lent: Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter – Matthew 16:18
And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it – Matt 16:18.
Today’s Lenten Reflection
If you have ever been to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, you could not have missed the magnificent bronze statue of St. Peter holding the keys to the kingdom and giving a blessing. The toes on the right foot of the statue have famously been worn smooth from the hands of pilgrims throughout the centuries. People walk by and reach out instinctively to touch “the rock” hoping for inspiration on their own spiritual journey
No doubt, there is something about Saint Peter that calls to each of us; something that offers no small measure of comfort and inspiration. Perhaps it is the fact that even though Peter was an Apostle of Christ, he was a normal person just like us. He, too, walked this life on earth – trials, tribulations and all. But what he shows us is that when we fall down, we are to get back up again, persevere, and successfully finish the race that lies ahead.
Today’s Gospel reading is one of Peter’s shining moments, but it does not take much to find the myriad of scenes in which he did not fare so well. While the exhortation to “Get behind me, Satan!” comes to mind as a moment of reckoning for Peter, nothing can top his triple denial of Jesus. But again, as Peter reminds us, perfection is not our calling. Successfully finishing our race is.
Yes, we will make mistakes in this life (many of them!). But the testimony of St. Peter shows us that the Lord’s mercy is greater than any shortcoming. Therefore, we stand in solidarity and in hope with St. Peter today knowing that the role of a faithful disciple was never meant to be easy or perfect. Rather, if we remain faithful to the Lord, persevering through the trying times, the road will eventually give way to clarity. And when that happens, when testimony abounds, we will once again as St. Peter did proudly profess to the world that Jesus Christ is Lord over all.
Day 5 Lenten Meditation
Take a minute or two to reflect on your own “Peter moments.” Were there any times you doubted God or denied that you knew Him? Amidst your current life challenges, have you been standing firm or hiding out in your own version of an underground catacomb? Whatever you are going through today, take a few moments to talk to St. Peter – a trustworthy and model companion on this journey of faith. Like us, He knew what it felt like to feel uncertain and to make mistakes. But in the end, he proves that all is well and ends well for those who surround themselves in the loving mercy of Almighty God.
Heavenly Father, Your Spirit shines through in both our inspiration and inconstancy. Throughout this time of prayer and penance, may we be evermore deeply grounded in the same faith that Peter himself received. Help us to walk this narrow path, navigating all the peaks and valleys of the spiritual journey with grace. As we move forward through the desert, we thank You for surrounding us with unwavering love and mercy. It is in Your good and holy Name we pray, Amen.
Today’s suggested Penance
Pray and offer some sort of sacrifice for the Church and her leaders.
“He who seeks forgiveness of his sins loves humility; but if he condemns another he seals his own wickedness” –St. Mark the Ascetic.