Saint Peter and Christianity Today
Saint Peter and Christianity Today
Peter, also called Simon Peter, was the son of Jona and brother to Andrew. Peter had initially stayed in Capharnaum with his wife and children. It is recorded that Peter’s wife was a very staunch martyr. Once he became the disciple of Jesus Christ, he quit his occupation of fishing. Among the twelve disciples of Jesus, Peter, John and James were the ones who went almost everywhere with him. But Peter is seen to have been the most beloved disciple (The Catholic Encyclopedia). The Bible depicts Peter as the disciple with the highest degree of inward affection for the Lord, faith and steadfast fidelity despite terrorizations by complexities and high vulnerability to pressures from the outside. His act of fidelity is shown when he answers Jesus that they have got nowhere else to go but to Jesus, the Messiah (The Catholic Encyclopedia). Peter is respected as the founder of the Church of Christ.
Saint Peter’s spiritual life
Peter’s name comes first in almost all evangelical accounts in the Bible, implying that he was the head of the disciples. And in many occasions, Peter speaks on behalf of all the other disciples. Jesus also shows his great affection towards Peter by turning specifically to him on different occasions (The Catholic Encyclopedia). While walking on water, Jesus calls him to cross over the other side of the lake (The Catholic Encyclopedia). When Jesus asked the disciples about his identity, Simon Peter answered that he was the Son of God, and Jesus blessed him. He renamed him ‘the rock’ upon which the church would be built. This has been taken by many denominations to mean that Peter’s appointment by Jesus formed the basis of God’s kingdom on earth with Peter as the earthly head. Thus the disappearance of Peter from earth did not mean the end of the Church of Christ because St. Peter had established a very firm foundation that was supposed to carry on. It is perceived that the intentions of Jesus for Peter to be the earthly head need not be forgotten simply because of Peter’s death. In order to fulfill the purpose of Christ, the presence and growth of evangelism must continue in a suitable form.
Synaxis of the twelve Disciples of Jesus
Although Peter had developed firm faith in Christ, he encountered challenges during his first evangelical missions because he did not have adequate knowledge about the works and persecutions of Jesus. Jesus knew what awaited Peter and thus assured him that he had prayed to God to strengthen his faith. While washing his disciple’s feet during the Lord’s Supper, Peter had at first refused when Jesus picked on him to be washed first. But after Jesus told him that failure to wash his feet would mean that Jesus would entirely depart from them after his death, Peter begged, “Lord, in addition to my feet, please wash my head and hands” (The Catholic Encyclopedia). Peter, at the Garden of Gethsemane, felt so remorseful that they had fallen deep asleep while the Lord was suffering (The Catholic Encyclopedia).
Peter loved Jesus and really desired to defend him when he was seized but he did not have the power. Peter’s denial of Christ at the High Priest’s place is considered, rather than lack of adequate inner faith in the Lord, the external fearfulness and fright. The conspicuity of Peter among the other disciples was not any less upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He confirmed him as the head and commissioned them to go back and spread the gospel. The women disciples of Jesus who first found the empty tomb were sent to Peter by the Lord’s angel. Again Jesus Christ appeared to Peter alone upon the second day of resurrection (The Catholic Encyclopedia). As if that is not enough, Peter’s commissioning to defend and feed the sheep of the Lord was restored by the Lord during his appearance at Genesareth. Jesus commissioned him, upon his affirmation of the extraordinary affection he felt for the Lord, to continue with the apostolic mission. Conclusively, the Lord predicted Peter’s brutal death and therefore prepared him to follow his footsteps with a better understanding of the consequences. Jesus ensured that Peter had received adequate training in preparation for the work ahead (The Catholic Encyclopedia).
Saint Peter’s Apostolic Life
Peter conspicuously expressed his universal leadership when Jesus ascended to heaven. He has since been regarded as the Leader of the early Christian Community basing on the way he coordinated the evangelical works among the Disciples of Christ as they awaited the Holy Spirit that had been promised. He took the initiative of appointing another apostle to replace Judas Iscariot who had died some time later after having betrayed Jesus (The Catholic Encyclopedia).
After the Holy Ghost descended on the day of Pentecost, Peter stood as the leader of the church to preach to a multitude about the life, death and resurrection of Christ for the first time. He saw to the conversion of many Jews to Christianity. He was the first apostle to perform a public miracle. He continued preaching and won many more converts that day (The Catholic Encyclopedia). When Peter and John were taken to be examined by the Jewish High Council, Peter impressively and firmly defended Christ’s cause and the freedom of the apostles to evangelize. Peter pronounced a punishment, in the name of the Lord, on Ananias and Sapphira for their attempt to fool the apostles. Through the miracles performed by Peter, it was an affirmation by God that he had given him the strength to aid His children. Peter was very powerful that sick people came to him with the faith they would be cured merely by his shadow falling on them (The Catholic Encyclopedia). With time, the popularity of the apostles had spread all over with many Jews converting to Christianity. This was perceived by the Jewish Supreme Council as a threat and stringent rules began to be implemented to restrict the work of the apostles. However, Peter warned the believers not to fear men but rather obey God. Peter continued with his apostolic work even when the Jews subjected him to untold suffering, imprisonment and persecutions. It is recorded that he suffered martyrdom in A.D. 66/67 under Nero (The Catholic Encyclopedia).
Questions as to Peter’s evangelism at the Roman capital, his habitation in Roma, the information and the successes of his work and the chronology of his entrance and demise, do not have clear answers. It is however very definite that the death of Peter was in Rome (The Catholic Encyclopedia; Catholic Saints).
Saint Peter is a solid rock upon which the church is founded. The early Christian church is highly attributed to Apostle Peter’s evangelical works. The Roman Catholic Church regards Peter as its earthly commander, with Jesus as the heavenly commander. Their faith is based on the perception that all Popes are successors of Apostle Peter. The Catholic Church interprets Matthew 16: 17-20 as the responsibility given to Peter by Jesus to superintend every sheep under him and his church. The Catholic Encyclopedia states that during the last days of his life, Peter martyred tirelessly in Rome till he died. Writers such as St. Irenaeus, St. Ignatius, St. Clement 1 of Rome, Eusebius of Caesarea and Origen have written massive inspirational literature in the Catholic community pertaining Peter’s martyrdom. It is believed that Peter’s act of baptizing Cornelius, the Roman pagan, indicated that his evangelical mission was universal. In addition, he performed miracles first among all the other disciples after the departure of the Lord. Despite the numerous persecutions, Apostle Peter did not waver in his faith. He sets an example for the whole Christian family in the world (The Catholic Encyclopedia; Catholic Saints).
Saint Peter’s Existence
The burial of Peter occurred in the Vatican Hill upon which the discovery of his possible tomb was made by St. Peter’s Basilica. The remains of Apostle Peter are preserved in the high alter (The Catholic Encyclopedia). Christians from all over the world go on pilgrimage to Peter’s tomb. Peter is represented by a bronze medallion comprising of Apostles’ heads. This representation is enshrined in the Christian Museum of the Vatican Library (The Catholic Encyclopedia). Peter’s portrait is characterized by a beard, thick curly hair, a receding forehead, conspicuous jaw-bones, and a strong roundish head. These characteristics are so human-like, they partake the depiction’s nature. Apart from the Vatican Library Christian Museum, similar features of Peter’s portrait have been represented in the Catacomb Chamber of Peter and Marcellinus Chamber which dates back to the late 3rd century. Here, Peter and Paul are portrayed as the mediators between God and the dead during the final judgment. Apostle Peter has influenced Catholic Church’s liturgical art. The art portrays him as a male adult with a book and a key in his hand. The symbols associated with Peter are a cock, a boat, and an inverted cross (Trinity Communications).
Portrait of Saint Peter holding two keys (Guarducci, 1960)
The annual celebration of Apostle Peter occurs on 29th of June. The feast is characterized by hymns of Saints Peter and Paul as the heads and leaders of the apostles. There are specific patterns for singing, dancing, and chorus gesture movements. The church reflects the suffering that the saint was subjected to; they are assured of God’s presence in whatever they do. In addition, Catholics honor him every 22nd of February and 19th of November. Many songs are composed in recitation of the twelve apostles, with Peter’s name the first in the list (The Catholic Encyclopedia).
To the tune of Jesus Loves Me.
- Jesus called them one by one
Peter, Andrew, James and John
- Next came Philip, Thomas too
Matthew and Bartholomew
- James the one they called the less
Simon, also Thaddeus
The twelfth apostle Judas made
- Jesus was by him betrayed
Yes, Jesus called them
Yes, Jesus called them
Yes, Jesus called them
And they all followed him
Peter advised the believers to be holy and have steadfast faith in God.
“[Therefore, restrain your thoughts, act soberly, and be hopeful until your life ends
because you will be glorified as Jesus Christ foretold. Obey God, ye children; do not fashion yourselves in relation to your earlier lust which had overcome you because you were ignorant. Since God, who has called you is holy; you must converse in a holy way. For it is said, as I (the Lord your God) am holy, so must you.]” 1 Pet. 1:13-16.
“[Beloved friends, I advise you, as worldly strangers and aliens; restrain yourselves from sin, which war against your soul.]” 1 Peter 2:11
As an intermediary between God and the dead, Peter could recite this prayer for his flock:
“[Our Lord, I did my part on earth; founded the holy Christian community as you commissioned me to, guided the flock and taught them the right path to your glory. Here is my flock; they did as I commanded them. Please open the heavenly doors for them. Let your servants rest in peace.]”
Marianist Educational Philosophy and Diversity Themes
Transforming our Culture Today
By BI William Joseph Chaminade
Q. Peter, what is the greatest challenge in your apostolic mission?
Racism is my greatest challenge. It is very hard to impress the Gentiles. Though most of them were opposed to my preaching at first, I have seen to the conversion of a great number.
Q. How has it been possible?
Saint Peter the Apostle: God hears the prayers of his servants. I spend time praying to God to touch the hearts of people. I pray to God that he may open the eyes of my audience and soften their hearts to listen to the word of God. Nonetheless, I must say that individuals need to embrace their culture. As a Christian missionary, you must teach the word of God in a manner that is comprehensible to your audience. This is how I approached my audience. I ensured that they grasped all the teachings is gave them, and made them believe that God is supreme and holy and demands us to be holy too.
Q. How do you perceive non-Christians?
Saint Peter the Apostle: I do not have any illusion about the reconciliation of God’s kingdom with the world of pagans. Not that I ignore the honorable manner of non-Christians, I attempt to raise the human spirit. The decision to do away with ‘non-Christian value’ compels me to pursue some form of alert and discipline.
Q. What is your advice to Christians?
Saint Peter the Apostle: Christians should follow my example. For Christ has commissioned me to establish his church on earth, I command Christians to follow in my footsteps. God has revealed to me that you must lead a holy life because He is holy. Pray to Him always. Preach the gospel and bring people to God. Then we shall reunite in heaven and rejoice in God.
Charlie Kerekes. “Apostle’s Song”. Child Bible Songs- http://childbiblesongs.com/song-15-apostles-song.shtml [Accessed: August 5, 2011]
Catholic-Saints.Net. “St. Peter the Apostle Biography: Catholic Church Saint Life in Chains- Saint Peter, Prince of the Apostles” [online] Available from
http://www.catholic-saints.net/saints/st-peter.php [Accessed: August 5, 2011]
Guarducci, M. (1960). Saint Peter. Hawton Books.
The Catholic Encyclopedia. “St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles” [online] Available from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11744a.htm [Accessed: August 5, 2011]
Trinity Communications. “Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, apostles” [online] Available from http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2011-06-29
[Accessed: August 5, 2011]
- Jesus told Peter that Peter would form a rock upon which Christ’s church would be built and the church would not be overcome by evil.
 Adapted from Child Bible Songs http://childbiblesongs.com/song-15-apostles-song.shtml by Charlie Kerekes
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