“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Peter
Charles Johnston is a father and husband in Phoenix, Arizona. His conversion journey has taken years, as he felt God pulling him toward His Church but he resisted until he couldn’t take it anymore. He gave in and fell in love with His Church. He blogs for ‘Now that I’m catholic.wordpress.com’. In this episode, I talk to Charles, about the Apostle Peter, his ministry and transformation from a fisherman to fisher of men.
– The difference between Peter and Judas
– His openness to the Holy Spirit
– His ability to seek the Lord and remain loyal to Him.
– The spiritual journey and maturation of Peter
For our listeners who’d prefer to read, here’s the transcript :
Charles: Well, Saint Peter was from Galilee, which is like the northern region of Israel, and he was the brother of Saint Andrew. Saint Andrew actually came down…I mean he was the apostle of…the disciple of Saint John the Baptist.
And he came to Peter and he told him about Jesus. And depending on which Gospel you’re reading…you know, the synoptics sometimes change up the story a little bit you know.
And Jesus called them to be disciples, Peter and Andrew together. And a lot of people think that James and John, sons of Zebedee, were partners with Peter and Andrew, and they got a fishing business, like a venture together, you know.
So they were fishing in from Galilee. That was kind of the main export of the area, and Jesus called them to be disciples. Peter was married. It doesn’t say whether he was married at the time.
It was assumed that he was a widower, because at one point Jesus heals his mother-in-law. But there’s never a mention of a wife, so it was assumed he was a widower too.
So he’s just a, you know, a Jewish fisherman of the sea of Galilee that’s…along comes this itinerant Rabbi who tells him, “Come follow me. ” And he drops everything and follows him.
Like I said, he was a fisherman. He wrote the Epistles of Saint Peter, First and Second Peter, and they were written in Greek. And so there’s some debate on whether or not he even knew how to speak Greek.
Maybe he had, like, a secretary writing for him. But yeah, for all intents and purposes, he was an uneducated fisherman from northern Israel.
Pamela: Okay. When we talk about Peter, there’s a lot about his characteristics. So can you talk about Peter’s…I mean, throughout the Gospel, there’s mention about his temper. His brashness.
All different things. So can you talk a little about, you know, those flaws that Peter had that all of us have?
Charles: Yeah. Yeah, he was very much…he rushed into things. You know, he would just…he kind of put his foot in his mouth a lot too. You know, whenever it’s listed, the apostles are listed with Jesus and it says, like, who was there.
Peter is always listed first. He was a very important figure in Jesus’ inner circle. You know, it was usually Peter, James, and John was really His inner circle. And Peter would just sometimes just spoke his mind without ever really kind of thinking about it first.
Like, when they were going off to Jerusalem, he said, “I will die for you,” and all that. Just kind of swore his loyalty. And literally, you know, like, two chapters later, he’s swearing and denying that he even knew Christ you know.
So he was very much…he rushed into things. When the guards came to take Jesus away. And they grabbed Jesus to take Him away, Peter drew his sword and cut off the servant of the high priest’s ear, you know.
And so he was just kind of quick to act and quick to talk. And one of my favorite stories is during the Transfiguration, when Jesus is on top of the mountain.
And Peter, and James, and John, you know, the three amigos, are there with Jesus. And Moses and Elijah show up. Moses, and Elijah, and Jesus are having this conversation, and Peter pipes in and says, “You know what, I’m going to…why don’t we build three booths for you guys here on top of the mountain?”
And it’s… and he didn’t even know what he was saying, or he just felt the need. And we all do that sometimes, where you need to fill the dead air with…just kind of, you talk out of just wanting to fill the silence, you know.
And that’s what Peter had done, and just kind of stuck his foot in his mouth once again, you know. But that’s what I love about Saint Peter, is he’s really an everyday, everyman kind of character, like, anyone can relate with.
If you’ve got a temper problem, you know, he cut a guy’s ear off. So if you speak, you know, just without ever really, like, without processing it first, Peter’s your guy.
You know, he really kind of has a lot of these different flaws, but he also has a lot of strengths too. And it was really…Peter was really…his strengths were really reinforced on the day of Pentecost.
When he received the Holy Spirit, you know, in that special way the apostles in the upper room. That he went from kind of gun-shy. Kind of scared. They were up in the upper room.
You know, the door was locked for fear of the Jews, it says in the Gospel of John. And he goes from being this, you know, kind of timid…he would talk, and he would rush into things, but he wasn’t brave.
You know, it didn’t say bravery. And then all of a sudden, you know, bang. He’s out there, and he’s preaching this great sermon, you know, from Acts Chapter 2 or 3, whatever it is, on the day of Pentecost.
Pamela: So would you say that the turning point in Peter’s life was where, you know, the rooster crows and then he realizes his mistake? And from then on, everything changes?
Charles: Yeah, things change from there. But when it really is when Jesus met him on the Sea of Galilee, and post-Resurrection appearance of Jesus. And when He said to him, you know, “Peter, do you love me?”
And he said, “You know I love you, Lord.” And it was that three…Jesus said it three times. But what was really interesting is the words that Jesus used for, “Do you love me?”
The first two times He said it, was “agape,” which is like an, you know, an unending love. A love without boundaries, you know. He said that twice. And then the third time He said “phileo,” which is just, like, a brotherly love.
So it was like Jesus would just settle for that. Like, “If you’ll just love me as much as you love your brother, I’ll settle for that.” Then Peter started crying, because he realized, you know, the three times, “Feed my lambs.
Feed my sheep. Feed my lambs.” It was a restoration from the three-time denial, and I really think that would have been a turning point in Peter’s life.
Pamela: So what is the difference between Peter and Judas? Why didn’t…what is it that made Peter so much more resilient compared to Judas?
Charles: Right. That’s one of my favorite comparisons really, is the two apostles. You’ve got the traitor, Judas, and you’ve got the, you know, the Prince of the Apostles, Peter.
And the difference between the two of them is they both betrayed Christ really. I mean, Judas done it in a more of an overt way. He went out and he brought temple guards, and he brought them over and paid for it.
So his betrayal was, you know, more treasonous than Peter’s. But Peter, you know, was there, and he denied Christ three times after just saying one or two chapters earlier, “I’ll die for you.
I’ll die with you.” And He said, “Okay. Yeah.” You know, Jesus kind of knew it was gonna happen, because He said, “You’re sure you’ll die for me? All right. Later on down the road you’ll die for me.
But as of right now, you’re going to deny me three times.” And the difference between the two of them that…the thing that really strikes me is despair. Judas betrays Christ.
Judas realizes what he does, and he gives into despair, and he goes out and he hangs himself. Peter betrays Christ, realizes what he done, and then on Easter Sunday he ran up to our Lord.
You know, and he wanted to be restored to God. He wanted to…and it reminds me of any time we sin. If we turn back to God, God is always waiting there for us. He’s like the father from Prodigal Son.
He’s always waiting there with open arms. But the difference between someone who’s forgiven and someone who’s unforgiven is the despair. You give in to despair…and, I mean, everyone’s done it.
I’ve done it myself, and think, like, “Oh gosh, how am I going to be…I can’t be forgiven for this. How can I do…” And you give into that, and that’s a trick of the devil.
But it tamps you into not wanting to seek forgiveness. Not wanting to seek that restoration that Peter received on the shore of Galilee, when Jesus restored him back to his rightful place.
That’s the difference I see between Peter and Judas, is despair. They both committed, you know, treason against the king. But Peter came back and wanted to be back in the fold. Peter wanted forgiveness. Judas just went off and killed himself.
Pamela: Peter’s strength. I mean, we know that he’s a flawed individual. Peter represents the majority of us as people. But then Peter also represents this potential that God…Christ Himself saw this great potential in Peter.
Which Peter didn’t know he had. So what were these strengths that Peter had? This potential that was seen in him?
Charles: I think the biggest strength that he had was that he allowed the Holy Spirit to work through him on the day of Pentecost. Like, they said that sermon that he preached on the day of Pentecost, they said thousands were baptized.
Three thousand, it says in Acts. And he allowed that, because Jesus promised him, you know, right before the Ascension, “I’m going to send the Holy Spirit. Go back to the upper room in Jerusalem and pray and wait.”
It was nine days later the Holy Spirit came, and he allowed that to work through him, you know what I mean? Like, he could have fought, and could have said, “No.”
And could have said, “No, the master is gone, and woe is me.” And he could have went back into that state that he would have been, you know. But instead, he allowed God to work through him, and that’s what any of us have to do.
Because we all have our strengths and weaknesses, but we have to allow God to work through us to let the strengths shine through, because they’re all gifts from God. We have to allow them to work through us.
Pamela: Peter was somebody who changed gradually into his ministry. He would say…
Charles: Right, yeah. He was very…I don’t know how to put it. He was very anti-goyim. You know, a Gentile. He was very pro-Jewish and Jewish only, you know. And he wouldn’t even consider when God told him that all these things…when he had that vision on top of the house.
And the sheet was coming down. You know, it was the four corners that was held up, and it was all these unclean animals and stuff. And he said no when God showed him this and said, “Take and eat.”
“No, no, no. Never has unclean things touched my house.” So he actually said no to God. “No, I’m not going to do that.” In the end, the sheet came down…I believe it was three times.
It might have been four times until finally he got the message. And he went to Cornelius’s house, and that’s where he kinda seen that because…Paul was more of an apostle to the Gentiles.
When he came into a town, Paul would go into the synagogue, preach in the synagogue, usually wouldn’t get much results, and then go out to the Gentiles. Peter was the apostle to the Jews.
He would go only to the Jews. And he thought really that, you know, because salvation is from the Jews, he thought that it was a particular thing for them. That God was saying that, “This is…they’re my chosen people.”
But it’s spreading out, you know. It’s for the whole world. And he was kind of resistant to that, but then he got on board.
Pamela: Yeah, I think it was the Jerusalem Council that Paul and Peter had met for the first time. And then Paul was supposed to be…I think that’s where they identified that Peter would only talk to the Jewish people.
And then bring conversion there. Whereas Paul would be the guy who would speak to the pagans, because he was very successful with the Gentiles.
Charles: Yeah Peter was more…Peter stuck mostly to with the Jews, until he had received that vision to that…basically, like, “It’s okay, Peter. You can let go.” And this is the way it’s supposed to be.
Because then he started eating with, you know, mixed company. And then some of the Jews in, I believe it was Antioch, some of the Jews kind of took offense to that, that he was eating with mixed company.
Because it was Judaizers…that was one of the first problems of the early church, was Judaizers. And they said that, you know, to become a full member of the church you had to be circumcised.
You had to keep the Mosaic Law. And that’s really what the whole Jerusalem Council was about. “What kind of requirements do we have to put on these new Gentile converts?”
And Peter stopped eating with Gentiles, and that’s when Paul kind of chastised him. I think it was in Galatians that he talks about this, where he said and, like, took him to task for that.
And Peter seemed, like, “Okay. Yeah.” And Peter went back to, you know, the mixed company and everything. But yeah, that was what the Jerusalem Council was mostly about, was, “What kind of burdens do we put on?”
You know, “Do we make them keep the whole Mosaic Law?” And that’s where we get the Council’s decision. And the thing that was interesting about that too, is James stands up and he gives kind of his opinion on what’s going on.
You know, after they receive Paul’s testimony about what’s going on. And then Peter stands up and says, “We have decided. He speaks for the church.” You know, that’s where you really see Peter really taking on the leadership role, apart from Pentecost Sunday.
But he’s really taking on that role, saying, “We have decided.” So he’s speaking with authority there, and that’s when I think he really had a good leadership skill.
And he was always named first when naming the apostles, and he was always…sometimes in different parts of the Gospel. It will say, “Peter and the other apostles.”
Or, “Peter, James, and John, and the other apostles.” And at all the major moments of Jesus’ life, Peter, James, and John was there. But it was Peter who first recognized Jesus as the Christ, you know.
When they were sitting and He said, “Who do people say that I am?” And they come up with all kinds of, you know, “Elijah. Some say this. Some say that.” And then He said, “Who do you say that I am?”
And Peter spoke up immediately and said…because that’s what he does. He speaks immediately. He says, “You are the Christ. The Son of the living God.” And that’s when Jesus tells him, you know, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-jonah.
For flesh and blood hasn’t revealed this to you. And now you are Peter.” Peter was the first one to recognize Christ. And also, there’s another thing that I always found interesting, is in Luke. It’s Luke 22:31.
Thirty-one through 32, I think. It says, you know, “Satan, his request is to sift you like wheat.” And He says, “But I prayed for you, and when you turn back, strengthen the brethren.”
Jesus was telling him, “You’re going to betray me,” basically. He says, “He wants to sift you like wheat.” But what’s interesting is the word that He uses in verse 31 as “you” is plural “you.”
Like, in America, you’d say “y’all,” you know. Or “youse.” But it’s plural “you.” And then the next verse, when He says, “But I have prayed for you. Turn back and strengthen the brethren.”
The word He uses there is the singular version of “you.” So he is saying that, “Satan is gonna test all of these.” All the apostles will be tested and sifted, you know. “But I prayed for you in particular.”
Jesus prayed particularly for Peter. And, I mean, as Catholics we believe that Peter is, you know, the first pope, but even when I was a Protestant I still knew that Peter had a very special role.
That he was the de facto leader. He kind of became the leader after Pentecost, when he stepped up to the mic, but he was kind of the de facto leader the whole time, the way I see it.
Pamela: And it meant a lot that Peter had been…I mean, knowing that your leader has gone and left you, and now you are left with the ministry and doing all the things that He did.
So it must have been difficult managing the early church, which was so fragmented with no specific rules.
Charles: It would have been impossible if not for the Holy Spirit, really. You know, it would have been a sheer impossibility. There’s a story that Dr. Peter Kreeft tells all the time.
He’s a professor of philosophy at Boston College. And there was a merchant in France in the 1800s, and he wanted to convert to Christianity. To Catholicism. Or in the 1700s.
No, it was back during the time of the Bourges, so I guess it was the 1400s. And he wants to convert, and he tells the Bishop of Paris. The Bishop of Paris says, “Oh, great. I’ll baptize you right now.”
He said, “No, no. I’m going on a business trip to Rome. Let me go to Rome, and I want to see it all for myself. See, you know, the capital of your Christian Empire here, and then I’ll come back and I’ll get baptized.”
And the bishop thought, “Oh boy, he’s going to go and see all the corruption. You know, and all the different things that was going on. And all this, you know, high place corruption.”
And so the merchant disappears, and three months later he comes back and he says, “Did you see it?” He said, “Oh yeah, I’ve seen it.” He said, “What did you see?”
He said, “Oh, I’ve seen a terribly run organization with corruption and all these different things.” And then he said, “I want in.” He said “You want in?” And he said, “Yeah, because without the Holy Spirit, this would have collapsed two days after the Resurrection.”
If you look at the odds that they were up against for 2000 years, and especially in the early church, with all the things they were facing. And the Sanhedrin was constantly bringing them in and beating them in Jerusalem.
Until they, you know, graduated up to stoning Stephen. They sent Paul out as, like, a Christian hunter all the way to Damascus to go drag them back, and all these different things.
And then the Romans get involved, and the Romans start persecuting. If it wasn’t for the Holy Spirit, the whole thing would have just collapsed in a matter of weeks.
But that’s really what made Peter the leader he was, was the Holy Spirit. Because Jesus said, “I’m going to send the advocate, and he’s going to strengthen you. He’s going to help you and he’s going to bring back all these things I told you.”
Because you got to remember too, is we didn’t have a Bible back then in the early church. Everything was through memory and through oral, you know, passed-down campfire kind of stories and church services and stuff.
So they kind of, like, passed on, because the first Gospel wasn’t written…I think they say the earliest was maybe 30 years after the Resurrection. So it isn’t a terribly long time.
But still, even then they would’ve only had…like, each little group would have only had fragments of what we now call the Bible.
Pamela: So what exactly can ordinary people, like, qualify to learn from Peter’s ministry, from his life, from what he did, and what he finally accomplished? I mean, he started off being, you know, a fisherman.
And then he went on to being a fisher of men. So what can we learn from Peter?
Charles: Talk about the two biggest things I think that we can learn from Peter is, no matter what we do, no matter what happens, we can always return to God. So no matter what you do in your life.
No matter where you’re at in your current faith-life or, you know, whatever you want to call it, you can return to God. God can use someone like Peter, who denied Him three times.
He can use someone like Saint Paul, who killed Christians. You know, he had blood on his hands like we talked the other time, about Saint Paul. But Peter betrayed Christ in a very real way.
But, you know, he betrayed Him by denying Him three times, and yet here he comes out of that and becomes the first leader of the Church. He becomes, you know, the first pope, we believe.
But everyone can see that Peter was a very special leader in the early Church. And that’s really, I think, the biggest takeaway, is no matter what you’ve done in your life. No matter where you’re at.
No matter what kind of sin you’ve committed or what you think that God can’t…because you hear that a lot from people. You talk to people about God and they say, like, “Oh no, if you knew what I had done, God can never forgive me.”
No, He can. God can forgive you. God will forgive you. All you’ve got to do is ask, really. That’s all you have to do, is accept it. He’s already done the work. He already died for you.
All you have to do is really just reach out and grasp it. You know, it’s like a hand being offered to you. You’re drowning in the sea of sin, and there’s a hand reaching down, just like Peter when he sunk in the Sea of Galilee.
When he walked on the water. It’s the exact same thing. Jesus reached out His hand and grabbed him, and that’s what Jesus…has His hand out after every single one of us. Every person on Earth.
Jesus has His hand outstretched to us, and just like Peter, no matter what we do we can reach out and grab His hand. And that’s it. And there’s no…you don’t have to, you know, do any kind of, like, degree.
You don’t have to earn a degree. You don’t have to run a marathon. There’s no requirements, you know. Just reach out and grab the hand of Jesus. That’s, I think, the biggest thing.
And another thing is, be emboldened by the Holy Spirit. You know, allow the Holy Spirit to embolden you just like it did with Peter. The day of Pentecost comes, they’re in fear of the Jews, in the upper room with the door locked.
And here all of a sudden, he throws the door open and goes outside and starts preaching. And they would go to the temple, in the temple courtyards, and they would preach in the temple courtyards where the Jerusalem authorities actually were.
Like, that was their physical location, and they would preach right outside their doorstep. He became completely emboldened. Fearless, yeah. Fearless. And the fearlessness came from the Holy Spirit.
Because Peter wasn’t fearless to begin with. Peter was scared of, you know…he might have only got…I don’t know what the punishment would have been for being a disciple of Christ.
But he might have only got whipped or something to begin with, you know, on the day of the Holy Thursday or Good Friday. But he was terrified there. He was terrified to admit he even knew Jesus.
You know, “I’ve never seen him in my life.” But now, he’s going literally to the doorstep of the people who killed his rabbi. His master. His Lord. You know, he’s going to their doorstep and preaching the Gospel right outside.
So that’s a big turnaround, and we have to allow that to happen in our lives too. You have to, you know, be fearless in the sake of the Gospel. Just go out there and share the Gospel with somebody.
And you might get rejected. You probably will get rejected, you know, more times than they’ll give a friendly…you know what I mean? Like, especially if you do it, you know, in public or online or whatever.
You get a lot of nasty comments online. And just let it, you know, let it roll off your back. Doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter what somebody says. What matters is the truth, and the truth is, Jesus is who He says He is. And that’s world-shaking truth.
Pamela: Did you also say that Peter was very loyal? I know that even though he denied Christ, I mean, he was with him practically every step of the way. Even though he said he didn’t know him.
But he was in the courtyard watching him, and you see Peter’s loyalty throughout.
Charles: Yeah, I feel like he was very loyal. I think that fear got the best of him. Or maybe it was even the devil, because Jesus said, you know, “The devil is wanting to sift you like wheat.”
So maybe it was just kind of a temptation from the devil. Just, you know, kind of like the old cartoons. The demon on the one shoulder and the angel on the other shoulder, you know.
And the demon got the better of him. But yeah, I think he was loyal, and he followed Jesus, and he wanted to do the right thing. He wanted to be there, you know, with his master. But I think he just let fear get the best of him, you know.
And that happens. It happens to all of us. I can’t seriously say without a shadow of a doubt that if I was there 2000 years ago, I would have walked right up and said “Yup, I’m with him.
Put me on the cross next to him.” You know, especially pre-Resurrection, because this was kind of an unexpected thing, even though Jesus told them. Like, that’s what always shocks me.
Because we read it with, you know…hindsight is 20/20. So we read the Bible and we kind of know what’s going to happen. Jesus is going to die. He’s going to get raised from the dead.
But them at the time, the apostles, even though Jesus would say, like, “Listen, I’m going to Jerusalem. They’re going to kill me, and then I’ll come back on the third day,” it just goes right over their head.
And it always surprised me, but I guess when you look at it, you know, hindsight is 20/20. Like I said, then you can see the whole picture. We can see the whole picture.
But back then, this was kind of a surprising event, that all of a sudden, here’s the Messiah, and he’s being took up to be crucified by the Romans. How could the authorities that are supposed to be waiting for the messiah too.
You know, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. How could they deliver him over to the occupying force? So it would all have been kind of shocking.
So I can’t say with absolute certainty that I would have joined Jesus on Calvary. But yeah, he let fear get the best of him, you know, and it happens. But I do think he was loyal. He wanted to do the right thing.
Pamela: And also, I think this is an exciting thing with almost every page. Every scene. That God sees the potential where probably human beings won’t. He sees things so far…I mean, you would never have thought.
That they would have gone on to do some great things. But then each of them went on and did them.
Charles: Well, I mean, we see that all the way back in the Old Testament too, don’t we? You know, when David’s…when Samuel went to Jesse. And God directed him to go to Jesse’s.
And he had, like, what was it, five or six sons? And every single one of them would come forward, and God said, “Nope. Nope. Not him. Not him.” Until finally He said, “Where is your other son?
There’s another son.” He said, “Oh yeah, he’s just…” And God said, “I look at the heart.” You know, He sees the potential. I mean, He knows the potential of everybody. He kind of goes towards that.
God can take a mold, you know. Your best potential. Whereas we might see, like, oh that guy’s a loser. You know, we judge from outward appearances, but God knows the heart.
And that’s the most important thing, is your heart. Your desire to do good.
Pamela: What are some of the most famous teachings or quotes of Peter? I mean, there were certain things that he…other than his preaching to only Jews.
But there were specific teachings that Peter had. What were some of the most famous quotations or teachings?
Charles: Well my favorite thing that Peter ever said was after the Bread of Life Discourse. You know, Jesus is preaching in the synagogue at Capernaum, and He tells them, “This is…you know my flesh is true food.
My blood is true drink,” in John Chapter 6. And then the Jews started grumbling among themselves. And then Jesus doubles down and says, “You have to gnaw on the flesh.” And then a lot of them left.
Many of His disciples drew back. They left Him. And Jesus turns to the apostles, you know, the group. There are the 12 of them. And said, “Will you go away also? Will you leave me also?”
Once again, Peter is the one, he’s the spokesman of the group, and he speaks up and says, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” And that’s really the perfect answer.
Where else are we gonna go? You’re the Messiah. You’re the Son of God. Okay I don’t…he didn’t say, “I perfectly understand your teaching here on the Bread of Life.” He didn’t say, “I get it 100%.”
He just said, “I’m with you. I believe in you, and so if you say this is so, who am I to say it isn’t?” And that’s really…that, I think, really sums Peter up, is he was willing to just trust Jesus and just go with it.
And it’s really something that I’ve strived to do, you know, for the last few years of my life, ever since I’ve really kind of re-committed myself to…because I’ve been a Christian my whole life.
But really I was a Christian with heavy air holes about that, you know. It was when he told them, he said in…I think it was First Peter. I have to look up the exact location.
But it was, “Be prepared to give a defense for the hope that’s in you.” You know, always be prepared to give a defense, and do it with gentleness and kindness too. But always be prepared to give a defense for the hope that’s in you.
And that’s…what is the hope that’s in you? The hope that’s in you is Christ, so always be prepared to give a defense of Christ. And not so much like “on the defense.” The word he used was “apologia.”
That’s where we get “apologetic.” But it wasn’t so much a defense like, “Be on the defensive, and if someone says something, say, like, ‘Hey,’ and get your guard up.”
It was, “Be prepared to share the Gospel,” basically. Be prepared at all times and all seasons. Be prepared to share the Gospel with whoever you need. If someone asks you, “So, what is this deal about Christianity?”
Be prepared to share with them. You know, and you don’t have to be a catechist, and you don’t have to be a professional evangelist, but we’re all called to evangelize. Every one of us.
You know, the church exists…I think it was Paul VI said, “The church exists to evangelize, and that is her basic mission.” We are a church that exists to evangelize, and not just Catholics. All Christians.
That is our goal. We are called to spread the news, the good news, far and wide. Jesus told them right before the ascension to go to the ends of the Earth. “Teach in everyone all that I’ve taught you.”
That’s our calling. Every single one of us. Anyone who’s ever been baptized into a Christian church, no matter if you’re, you know, Pentecostal, Baptist, Catholic, whatever, you’re called to evangelize.
And that’s what Peter said in his epistle, is always be prepared to give a defense. Give a reason for the hope that’s in you.
Pamela: So what book did you use when you were reading up on Peter?
Charles: There’s a book that…I actually took Peter as my Confirmation name when I was received into the church. And so my sponsor at RCIA gave me a book about Saint Peter, because I’m a big fan.
And I can’t remember the name of it though, offhead. I left it at home. I can’t…but another…it was really good. I’d have to maybe email it to you. Another one, though, was by Cardinal Dolan.
Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York. His Episcopal motto is, “To whom shall we go?” You know, quoting Peter. And he wrote a book called “To Whom Shall We Go?”
It’s kind of a reflection on Saint Peter, and I thought it was a really great book. And then, you know, apart from that, just all throughout the Gospels. And the first, you know, I think the first half of Acts is about Peter mostly.
And then it kind of shifts to Paul. So if you really want to read up on Peter, I’d say go through the first half of Acts.
You know, his name change, that’s a very significant thing that happened in the Bible. You know, he starts out as Simon, then he changes to Peter, and that’s indicative of…there’s a lot of people in the Old Testament especially.
You know, you have Abram changing to Abraham, and Jacob becomes Israel. You know, you have a lot of these name changes in the Bible to signify kind of a change in mission.
And Peter was Simon, and it was…Jesus changes him to Peter, and Peter means “rock.” “On this rock, I’ll build my church.” You know, he changes his name to “solid.” You know, Petros means “rock.”
It’s a solid, firm thing. That’s…at the time Peter wasn’t solid as a rock. But like I said, as you see later on, he becomes solid. And then, you know, he even died for the faith in Rome. He was crucified.
Tradition tells us he was crucified upside down. Because he told the executioners that he wasn’t worried that he would die in the same manner as his Lord. So they flipped him upside down.
And that was actually on…he was buried on Vatican Hill, so that’s where currently Saint Peter’s Basilica is built. Right over the top of his grave. But there’s actually a book…I never did read the book.
But I’ve seen the movie. “Quo Vadis,” it’s called. It means “where are you going?” And it was kind of an apocryphal story. I don’t know if was from the Acts of Saint Peter. It’s not a canonical book.
But there was a novel written in the…I think it was the 50s or 60s. They made it a movie in the 60s, and it was a pretty good movie too. And it was kind of about Peter’s later years, you know.
But supposedly the story goes, Peter escapes from the Roman authorities a few times. You know, he’s kind of underground in Rome. Kind of in hiding. And he escapes from the powers that be who were trying to capture him.
And he’s walking out on the Appian Way. And he’s walking out of Rome, and he sees Jesus. And Jesus is carrying a cross, and Jesus is heading into Rome, and he asks Him. He says, “Where are you going?
Quo vadis?” And He says, ” Oh, I’m going back to be crucified again.” Then all of a sudden, Peter remembers the last time Jesus went to be crucified and he denied Him.
And so he turns around and walks back into the city, and he was captured, and Nero had him crucified. It was a nice image of the way Peter grew, you know. The way he evolved in his faith, from being loyal.
But not loyal until death, to loyal until death. He went the whole distance. He became a martyr. The ultimate witness for the faith is…you know, martyrdom means “witness.”
He became the ultimate witness for the faith by submitting himself to martyrdom.
Pamela: And I think we’re all being called to that, like, from being just loyal, and on the path to being completely loyal. And it’s an everyday thing, I guess. That you’ve being called to do that over and over.
Charles: Yeah, well because Jesus is the king of the universe. The king of kings. And you don’t kind of submit to…we’ve all kind of lost the idea of what a king is.
Because, you know, everyone lives…not everyone. But most of us that are listening to this live in kind of, you know, in democracies, and we don’t really have monarchies.
I mean, they have monarchies in some European countries, but they aren’t really what they used to be. So we’ve kind of lost the idea of what a kingdom is and what is a king.
But Jesus is the king of the universe. He’s the king of everything and we have to submit. There was a couple weeks ago. The Gospel reading was, “Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all you who are labored and heavy burdened.
And I will give you rest, because my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ You have to submit to the kingship of Christ.” And He also said, you know, “Pick up your cross daily and follow me.”
We have to be willing to go all the way with Christ. And 99% of us won’t be called to martyrdom. That isn’t what we we’re called to, but the little things, you know. Just we have to be willing to suffer for Christ if we’re called to that, and not turn away.
Pamela: And I think that one of the things is being aware of the moment that you’re being called. Sometimes we’re not aware that in this moment, that we’re being called.
And based just on your own independent trip, I think being open to the Holy Spirit leads you to understand that you’re being called at this moment. To this moment of fellowship, or to this moment of charity, or to this moment of, you know, giving, or, whatever.
Charles: Yeah, these divine appointments. I can’t remember who it was that I heard say that, “Divine appointments is these little moments in time where someone says something to you.
And just a Bible verse pops into your head. You know, share it with them. Tell them that. Don’t keep it to yourself.” Or, you know, if somebody needs counseling.
And you just sit there, like, nodding, “Uh-huh, yeah,” but you don’t actually say anything. But all these little things are just going to pop up in your daily life that you can use to help further the Gospel. That we’ve just let slip by.