Each day this week, the first reading at Mass has been from the Acts of the Apostles and have been focused on what I would call the Adventures of Simon Peter! In these readings (see below for complete list), Peter seems to have found his voice and his courage. He has just cured a man who was crippled from birth and this same man, who now walks on his own, enters jubilantly into the temple! Recognizing the man who once begged outside the Temple, many are astonished. Simon Peter says to them it is by God's grace that he was able to accomplish the healing.
Numerous Sanhedrin, realizing their authority was threatened, plotted against Simon Peter and John, arrested them, but ultimately could not find a way to justify detaining them. Through it all, Peter is courageous, composed, even heroic! Who is this guy? Is this the same person who denied Jesus Christ three times on the eve of Jesus' crucifixion?
Through these stories, we finally see in Simon Peter what Jesus must have seen in the bumbling, imperfect, cowardly, brash, and sometimes foolish fellow all along. He saw that Peter had potential, and in these stories, we see that Peter's potential is realized: his faith in Jesus Christ is strong and surely with a bit of help from the Holy Spirit, he becomes courageous.
What I like best about Peter's story in general is that this man -- so full of failings -- is the man Jesus Christ chose to lead the Church in its earliest stages (Matt 16:18). It is comforting, as a person who is much more like Peter than like Jesus, that Jesus might be able to see beyond my many flaws and help me also realize my potential in, through, and for him.
Monday through Saturday readings 03/24/2008 - 03/29/2008:
Acts 2:14, 22-33