“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:68-69)
Apostle Peter, whose previous name was Simon, was a fisherman from Bethsaida. The name Peter (Petrus, from Greek πέτρος – rock, stone) comes from the nickname Cephas (Aram. – stone), which he got from Jesus. Peter spent the largest part of his life before his meeting with Christ in a boat on the waves of the Sea of Tiberias struggling for the daily food for his family. Perhaps, the world would never know about the fisherman from Bethsaida, if only Peter’s brother Andrew did not find him and say: “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41). It was the first meeting of the future supreme apostle with Christ.
|The landscapes of the present day Bethsaida
We can say that the episode about fishing, when the apostles had a big catch by the blessing of the Lord, is the second conversion of Simon. Due to this miracle, Apostle Peter felt the holiness of Jesus Christ, His almightiness. At the same time, he understood his own sinfulness and exclaimed: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” – to which the Lord replied: “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men” (Luke 5:8, 10).
Apostle Peter was a very spirited and ardent person: it was he who asked the Lord to let him go on the water during the storm; it was he who tried to protect Christ during His arrest at Gethsemane and cut the ear of the archpriest’s slave, although the Lord did not need his help because He was going to meet death by His own will; Apostle Peter was the first one from all the disciples who confessed Jesus Christ as the Son of God and was promised that the Church of God would be based on his faith, and the gates of hell would not defeat It.
|Apostle Peter cuts the slave’s ear.
Despite all his sincere assurances of his loyalty, Apostle Peter renounced the Lord three times. However, the remorse for the committed sin and God’s love and mercy restored Peter in his apostolic rank. As the Church story states, Apostle Peter mourned his betrayal every morning when he heard a cock crowing.
Apostle Peter was one of the closest disciples of Jesus Christ. Together with apostles John and Jacob, he was a witness of all the miracles the Lord performed.
What St. John Chrysostom says in his works:
“Wherefore, if thou wouldest make thy good deeds great, do not think them to be great, and then they will be great. It was in this way that the centurion also said, “I am not fit that thou shouldest enter under my roof;” (Matthew 8:8) because of this, he became worthy, and was “marvelled at” above all Jews. On this wise again Paul saith, “I am not meet to be called an apostle;” (1 Corinthians 15:9) because of this he became even first of all. So likewise John: “I am not meet to loose the latchet of His shoe;” (Luke 3:16) because of this he was the “friend of the Bridegroom,” and the hand which he affirmed to be unworthy to touch His shoes, this did Christ draw unto His own head. So Peter too said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man;” because of this he became a foundation of the Church. For nothing is so acceptable to God as to number one’s self with the last. This is a first principle of all practical wisdom. For he that is humbled, and bruised in heart, will not be vainglorious, will not be wrathful, will not envy his neighbor, will not harbor any other passion. For neither when a hand is bruised, though we strive ten thousand times, shall we be able to lift it up on high. If therefore we were thus to bruise our heart likewise, though it were stirred by ten thousand swelling passions, it could not be lifted up, no, not ever so little. For if a man, by mourning for things pertaining to this life, drives out all the diseases of his soul, much more will he, who mourns for sins, enjoy the blessing of self-restraint”.
Reflections in the Holy Church tradition:
Having abandoned the fishing grounds thou didst receive from the Father Himself the revelation of the Word’s Incarnation, and as one who is privileged thou didst cry to all, saying unto thy Creator: I have known Thee as the Son of God, consubstantial with Him. Wherefore, in all truth, thou hast been worthily shown forth the Rock of the holy Faith, and thou holdest the keys of grace.
Intercede, therefore, O Apostle Peter, with Christ God to grant forgiveness of iniquities to those who eagerly celebrate thy holy memorial.
To be continued…