The Rock

I’m a fan of St. Peter.  I love his big heart and his big faith.  He loved Jesus completely even though he often got Jesus’ message wrong.  He was emotional and quick to anger.  But he was also quick to ask forgiveness and express real contrition.  I love when Peter confessed that Jesus was the Son of God (Matthew 16:16).  I love that Peter had faith enough to get out of the boat and walk on the water (Matthew 14:30). This big, loving man is the rock upon whom Christ founded His Church (Matthew 16:18). But one of my very favorite stories about St. Peter isn’t found in the Bible but comes from an apocryphal book from the second century called the “Acts of Peter.”  It’s well-known to most Catholics, but many protestants may never have heard the story.  It goes like this. In the decades after Christ’s Ascension, Peter had traveled to Rome to spread the Gospel  The young Church there was being heavily persecuted by the Roman authorities.  Soon Peter found himself on the wrong side of the pagan Empire and was in fear for his life.  His friends urged him to quickly flee the city.  Finally, he agreed and made his way out of Rome.  As he was leaving the city gate he saw a figure approaching him on the road.  As the man drew near to him, St. Peter realized that it was Jesus.  He fell down in adoration and famously asked, “Quo vadis, Domine?” or “Where are you going, Lord?” Christ replied to Peter, “I am going to Rome to be crucified again.”  Peter knew then that he must return and face a martyr’s death, as Jesus had foretold (John 21:18).  It was Peter’s love for the Lord that had led him to Rome, and it was that same love that led him back to his own crucifixion that day. Love was what bound Peter and Jesus together.  After the Resurrection, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him, because love is the measure of faith.  Jesus wasn’t interested in Peter’s business success, or his annual income, or if he was an inspiring leader or had great organizational skills.  Jesus asked, “Do you love me?” (John 21:15-17).  And Peter confessed, “Lord, You know all things.  You know that I love You.”


Even though the “Quo Vadis” story wasn’t included in the canon of the Bible, I don’t think that makes it any less “true.”  The Peter in this story is so true to the character of St. Peter in the Bible that it makes the story authentic, at least for me.  And it illustrates something about our relationship with Christ that we all should consider — when you imagine your future, is God in it?  St. Peter imagined Christ with him in Rome and so he went there to spread the Gospel.  He taught and preached in a hostile environment because he invited Christ into every meeting, every homily, every Mass.  Christ lived in Peter and the fisherman was able to do things he could never have done on his own.  It was only when Peter let go of Christ that he sank in the water, fled from Gethsemane, denied knowing Jesus, and ran away from Rome.  When Peter lost sight of Jesus, he was really and truly lost.  What’s true for St. Peter is true for us.


You can’t follow Jesus at a safe distance.  Being His child means being immersed in the life of Christ, because our faith is the faith of relationship.  We are created to be in relationship with our Creator.  God IS relationship:  the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  And God wants nothing less than that sort of love relationship with each and every one of us.  And that means including Him in every moment of every day.  Invite Him to share your day when you wake up.  Ask Jesus to be with you in your commute.  Invite the Lord to be with you in your work.  Ask Christ to enter into your family time at meals and as you spend time at the ballgame or dance recital or mall.  When you look at your weekly schedule, ask God to share it with you and to sanctify it with His indwelling presence.  Invite Jesus to lead you in every step and then FOLLOW HIM.  Never let anything or anyone come between you and Jesus.  Like St. Peter, always be ready and willing to ask the Savior, “Where are you going, Lord?” And no matter what answer He gives you, take up your cross and follow Him.  Your only future, your only life, is in the love of Christ.


“Let this be your whole endeavor, this your prayer, this your desire—that you may be stripped of all selfishness and with entire simplicity, follow Jesus only.”                  —Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: