Recently, I had the opportunity to visit the remains of Saint Peter the Apostle in the Necropolis at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. When I caught a glimpse of these remains, I could not help but recall the striking way in which God used a man such as St. Peter for greatness.
Saint Peter: Ordinary but Called to the Extraordinary
When Simon Peter met Jesus for the first time, he was a simple fisherman. He was neither wealthy nor educated. But his first meeting with Jesus stirred something in him. He wanted to learn more about what Jesus had to offer him, and when Jesus gave him the opportunity to do so, he acted upon it.
“As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him” (Matthew 4:18-20).
Throughout Peter’s three-year journey with Jesus, he had his moments of consolation, but he also had his share of doubts. When Jesus appeared to the disciples, walking on water, Peter had enough faith to get out of the boat and come to Jesus. However, once he started having doubts, his faith began to shake, and he allowed himself to sink.
“Peter said to him in reply, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how [strong] the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14:27-31).
Not only did Peter have his share of doubts, but he also had moments when he was ashamed to even know Christ. On the night of Christ’s crucifixion, when asked if he knew Jesus, Peter denied knowing him not once but three times. Prior to this denial, Peter claimed that he would never deny Jesus and that he would even die for Him.
“He said to him, ‘Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die with you.’ But he replied, ‘I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows this day, you will deny three times that you know me’” (Luke 22:31-34).
Even during Christ’s darkest hour, when He was dying on the cross, Peter was nowhere to be seen. He and most of the other apostles had abandoned Christ when he needed them the most.
Made for Greatness
Despite all of Peter’s shortcomings and failures, Jesus saw the best in him. In fact, Jesus saw so much potential in Peter that He made him the first leader and “Rock” of His Church.
“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. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19).
After Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension, Peter became a witness of Christ’s love and forgiveness. He went around healing people and baptizing new Christians. And as he promised Jesus the night before Christ’s death, Peter died as a martyr for Christ. As Tradition has it, Peter died by being crucified upside down.
God used a person like Saint Peter for greatness. He was just an ordinary man. He had doubts, just like we all do. He stumbled. He even denied Jesus three times. Even so, God made him the leader of His Church. I consider Saint Peter to be one of my favorite Apostles. Out of all of them, he is the one I can relate with the most. I have had my share of doubt at times. My faith is not always strong enough to walk on the water, and I have even been ashamed of knowing Christ at points in my life. But despite all of this, I cannot help but remember the extraordinary way in which God used an ordinary person such as St. Peter. If God used a man like him, it makes me think that God can use my life for greatness, too.
Many followers of Christ today feel that they are not adequate enough to be used by God. Saint Peter is a prime example of someone who could be considered inadequate or not worthy enough for the title that Christ gave him. But Jesus did not look at Peter’s inadequacy. He looked at His heart. When we feel inadequate or unworthy of Christ’s love, we can look to Saint Peter. Although he had his share of doubts, failures, and shortcoming, Christ did not consider him to be undeserving of greatness.