Peter is called the “Prince of the Apostles” for many reasons, including this Sunday’s Gospel. So on a feast dedicated to Peter, where the Gospel has Jesus saying “you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,” we would expect readings that show Peter in all of his glory. And we would be mistaken. Instead, the first reading (from Acts) gives us a scary mess.
Remember the Transfiguration, the Garden of Gethsemane, and all of the other times Jesus went off with a few select Apostles? That smaller group was always Peter, James, and John. The first reading opens with the almost random killing of James by Herod (number one on the History Channel’s “Psychotic Despots of the Bible” special last year). Because killing a member of Jesus’ inner circle went over so well with the public, Herod decides to boost his popularity some more and locks up Peter in preparation for a repeat.
If this is what you get when you are given the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven, it makes you think of Teresa of Avila’s exchange with God after she was knocked off the donkey she was riding and injured her leg:
T. “Lord, you couldn’t have picked a worse time for this to happen. Why would you let this happen?”
G. “This is how I treat all my friends.”
T. “And that is why you have so few of them!”
We’ll look at Paul tomorrow.