“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 Six 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, I am sure you did not miss the magnificent bronze statue of Saint Peter holding the keys to the kingdom and bestowing a blessing. The toes on the right foot of the statue have famously been worn smooth from hands of pilgrims throughout the centuries reaching out for their own unique blessing on this spiritual journey of life.
There is something about Saint Peter that calls out to each person, whether Catholic or not. Biblical accounts of St. Peter as the first Roman Pontiff offers both historical inspiration as well as a sense of comfort. Perhaps it’s because that even though Peter was an Apostle of Christ, he was also a normal person just like us. He walked this life on earth – trials, tribulations, and all the rest of it. What Peter reminds us of is that we will fall down; and when we do, we are to get back up again. Falling down is part of the journey not the end of it. In fact, falling down helps us to grow in virtue and finish the race ahead in strength. Peter’s witness and legacy is a testimony of unwavering faith and fortitude.
Today’s Gospel reading, while one of Peter’s shining moments, also demonstrates his humanness. It does not take long to find a myriad of scenes in which Peter does not fare so well. While the exhortation “Get behind me, Satan!” comes to mind as a moment of reckoning for Peter, nothing can top his triple denial of our Lord Jesus Christ. This moment in history reminds us that what matters most is our courage to get back up again, every time we fall, and successfully finish the race.
Day 6 Meditation
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. Thus, we are to stand in solidarity and in hope with St. Peter knowing that the role of the faithful disciple was never meant to be easy. It will be difficult. But if we remain faithful to the Lord, persevering through all trials and tribulation, the road will give way to clarity. When that happens, testimony abounds and we will profess to the world as Peter did that Jesus Christ is Lord today, tomorrow, and always.
Take a moment to reflect upon your own “Peter moment.” Has there been a time you doubted God or denied you knew Him? Amidst your current challenges, have you stood firm or have you hid away in a proverbial cave, unwilling to face the task ahead? Whatever you are going through today, take some time to talk with St. Peter, a trustworthy and model companion on this journey of faith. Ask him to pray for you before the throne of Christ, asking for courage and perseverance like his. Peter knew what it felt like to worry, feel both unconfident and prideful, and to make many mistakes. But he proves that all is well and ends well for those who surround themselves in the loving mercy and encouragement 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 as Peter had. Help us to walk this same narrow path, navigating all the peaks and valleys of the spiritual journey with grace and resilience. As we move forward, deeper into the desert, we thank You for surrounding us with the grace of faith and courage. It is in Your good and holy Name we pray, Amen.
Today’s suggested Penance
Pray and offer some sort of sacrifice and penance for the Church and Church leaders.
“He who seeks forgiveness of his sins loves humility; but if he condemns another he seals his own wickedness” –St. Mark the Ascetic.