Peter the fisherman, a rural manual laborer who the Jews in Jerusalem would have looked on as a hick with that funny Galilean accent, is the first to make that great act of Faith to Jesus: “You are the Christ the Son of the Living God”. At the First Eucharist, he swears to our Lord that if all others should deny him he never would. Then comes that night in the garden, where filled with misplaced courage he cuts off an ear, which Jesus promptly heals. Confused he waits outside where Jesus is held and denies that he knows the Man three times. Realizing what he has done he leaves and weeps bitterly.
The only apostle mentioned at the foot of the cross was John, not Peter. What gut-wrenching, heart aching guilt and sorrow Peter must have gone through over his actions. Fifty days later on the morning of Pentecost, Peter stands before the Jews gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles and converts three thousand people. Three thousand!
God did not give Peter the grace to be courageous in the courtyard after Jesus was taken in the garden, but he did give him the gift of the Spirit to convert 3,000 only fifty days later. The question is how do we be the Peter on Pentecost and not the Peter in the Courtyard?
The Peter on Holy Thursday night tried to take matters into his own hands when Jesus was arrested and cut an ear off a soldier. Peter thought he knew how Jesus would become King and it wasn’t by being arrested. Through the unimaginable grief, sorrow, and self-hatred Peter went through on Friday and Saturday, and then the joy on Sunday, Peter must have realized how weak and incapable he was without God’s Grace and how God’s will needed to be his will.
After the Ascension, the book of Acts tells us, “All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers”. How much did that prayer have to do with the 3,000 souls?
With the current crisis in the Church, I have found myself reading more news than I normally do. We are a culture that likes drama, even if at the same time we are appalled. I have seen a lot of writers convinced that they know how this is going to affect the church, what the key is to fix it, or how they are going to switch parishes or pressure bishops. It is a time for action, but what if our actions or plans are not God’s, or are motivated for the wrong reasons.
I think the answer is every morning is to get up 10 minutes early get down on our knees, deny the flesh, clear the mind and try to find the face of God. Then tell him, “Your will Lord, Your Will Lord” and then to be silent. [For a concrete roadmap of prayer and penance, check out Exodus 90]
Peter’s words on Pentecost bore fruit because of the active presence of God within him, cultivated through prayer. The life of Jesus Christ Himself in our souls cannot be cultivated and grow more intense nor can he show us his will when our lives and minds abound with noise, and without Him within us we can bear no fruit. St Theresa of Avila says ““He who neglects mental prayer needs not a devil to carry him to hell, but he brings himself there with his own hands.”
Written by: Mr. Joseph Larson