St. Peter: The Apostle of Hope
St. Peter is a Saint whom I had heretofore taken much for granted. Saint Peter is one of the foremost examples of Saints who through God’s grace wound up living a life of extraordinary holiness in spite of a great deal of personal weaknesses. What were those weaknesses?
One of St. Peter’s greatest weaknesses, and a flaw with which I can commiserate, was his preoccupation with what other people thought of him. For instance, he was always getting in arguments as to who was the greatest apostle. Furthermore, right before he denied Jesus, he was more focused on being suspected and punished by the onlookers rather than on staying true to Our Lord.
In the Gospels, Peter tended to be brash and lacked common sense. It was this brashness that led him to protest Christ’s prediction of death, cut off a servant’s ear in Jesus’ defense, and propose setting up booths at the Transfiguration.
In spite of his many weaknesses, God chose Peter to be the first Pope; it was the grace of the Holy Spirit that molded Peter into a great leader. In a time when we are told that if we are to overcome our weaknesses at all, we must do so on our own or through the use of some worldly method, it’s refreshing to hear Peter’s story which tells us that Our Lord is here to mold our characters into the way that He intends…as long as we let Him. Sometimes, as might have been in Peter’s case, Our Lord chooses for us to simply learn to accept our weaknesses rather than to have our personal flaws disappear entirely. For instance, even though Peter still probably remained naturally brash throughout his whole life, throughout time he learned to tame his natural reactions so that by the time that he writes his Epistles, the gruff fisherman has become a tender shepherd; in 1 Peter 3:4, he advises his readers to “have the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.”
As Peter’s life demonstrates, God does not give up on people despite our many weaknesses. Instead, God freely imparts His grace upon us to turn us into instruments of His love. Hence, if you become frustrated in trying to overcome a personal weakness, the following verse from 1 Peter 5:10 might provide some encouragement: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast.” Take hope in this words, for St. Peter himself was the apostle of hope!