Church of Peter Primacy by the Sea of Tiberias
SIMON PETER OF CAPERNAUM
- Document: Holy Scripture Readings
1.1. First Reading: The Book of the prophet Daniel 3: 25,34-43
1.2. Gospel Reading: The Gospel of St Matthew 18: 21-35
1.3. Simple Comment: Azariah, one of the three young men placed in a fiery furnace by the henchmen of King Nebuchadnezzar, pleads for his life and safety together with his two companions, Hannaniah and Mishael. He cites Yahweh’s unflinching love for his people who despite their sinfulness remains steadfast with his mercy and compassion. The Gospel reading similarly speaks about compassion when Jesus narrates the parable of forgiving Master as a response to Simon Peter’s question: how many times do I pardon an offender? God’s kindness is always the gauge in the way we have to treat each other. The responsorial psalm says it all: Good and upright is the Lord; thus he shows sinners the way!
- Monument: Simon Peter in Gallicantu and Tabgha
2.1. Simon Peter is acknowledged as one of the first four disciples of Jesus whether it is the version of the Synoptic gospels or that of St John. In the following Jesus, Simon Peter learns the difficult lesson of compassion and forgiveness. Impulsive and quite sure of himself, Simon Peter makes several blunders in the way he spoke and acted.
2.2. From the moment he knelt before Jesus asking him to leave him because he was a sinful man, to nearly drowning in the stormy Sea of Galilee as he faltered in his belief, to stopping Jesus from continuing his prediction about his passion and death and being called by Jesus as Satan, and to avowing that he will never forsake Jesus yet denying him three times in the courtyard of Caiaphas, Simon Peter is a picture of everyman whom Jesus the Lord, good and upright that He is, pardoned over and over again, thus showing sinners the way.
2.3. The post-resurrection scene in the shores of the Sea of Galilee, today known as Peter Primacy, manifests the ultimate in Jesus’ compassion for this first of disciples. Despite his threefold denial of early Friday morning, Simon Peter experiences his own moral resurrection that twilight of Sunday morning when Jesus appears to him and his friends and reconfirms his trust on him by still placing him the shepherd of His flock.
- Lenten Reflection
3.1. Praying the Our Father is a serious matter if we truly mean the words contained therein. The manner with which Jesus concluded his parable of the forgiving Master and the unforgiving servant is coherent with this prayer he taught his disciples: Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sinned against us is equivalent to My heavenly Father will treat you in exactly the same way unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.
3.2. We may be adept in our knowledge of the Bible to the point of quoting entire passages by heart. We may think ourselves quite knowledgeable of the tenets of our religion because we know how to discuss and defend our beliefs. However, if we miss out in the practice of charity particularly in the form of forgiveness, St Paul would say we are but a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. In his letter St John would say we are liars since we think we love God whom we do not see but hate our brother whom we see!
- Contemporary Filipino Question: A major cause why we find it difficult to forgive someone who hurt us is our amor propio. It is a Spanish term but it hits an eastern cultural dysfunction – losing face or honor. God through his gift of Christian faith corrects this misguided self-image. He tells us that He made us in His image and likeness, that is, in the image and likeness of Jesus His Son. In pointing to us a Jesus insulted, unfairly judged, spat upon, whipped and crucified, He also shows us a Jesus who forgave. Our honor is not based on how people treat us but how Christ-like we treat people.