Peter’s Growth

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

Throughout this week and for the remainder of the Easter Season, we hear the Acts of the Apostles proclaimed as the first reading at our liturgies. This particular book of the Christian Scriptures is a companion volume to the Gospel of St. Luke. Putting the two books together accounts for at least twenty-five percent of the New Testament. When one considers that these two documents were written by a man who admits that he was not an eyewitness, it is evident how important the virtue of faith is in comprehending the Scriptures.

One aspect of the Acts of the Apostles which is stands out is the very human nature of Peter's role in the earliest days of the Christian community. He literally "grows into" the role of leadership after he receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. Throughout the Gospel account, we are used to Peter getting it wrong, sticking his foot in his own mouth, blurting out comments that might be labeled less than intelligent. He is definitely a changed man in Luke's account of the earliest days of the community.

As is the case in all human beings, Peter's development into the chief spokesman was probably gradual. Success breeds confidence. His Pentecost Sermon garnered a large number of converts. The number continues to increase with each passing day. As the Christian community responded to his words, they also came to rely upon him as the chief apostle.

Peter places the reason for his success squarely on the gift he has been given. He never takes credit for the deeds done through him by God the Holy Spirit. In the speech we read today, he unabashedly tells the chief priests and the elders of Israel that they had failed to understand what they were doing when they handed Jesus over to the Romans to be crucified. The power which he has demonstrated in curing the lame man was not his own but simply a gift he had been given.

Peter's attitude is an example for each of us. God works through each of us. Like him, we give credit to God for any good that we may have accomplished.

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