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Why Is Peter Wiser than the Other Disciples?
When the Israelites first entered the Promised Land, they went from dieting on water and manna to ribeye, fresh veggies, and cabernet wine. They asked the locals where they got such delicious food. The people of the region did not tell them about Deere tractor loaders or farming techniques. They told them that the reason they had great food was they worshiped the fertility god. So the Israelites weighed out the differences, bread and water, or filet mignon and red wine. They went with the fertility god.
Many years later Jesus was on his way to Caesarea Philippi. What is in this town? A spring. We all know that a spring is underground water. To the ancients, it was the door to the underworld. It was where the fertility god lived and would supply the earth with water to grow wonderful food. It is in the context of this location that we can make sense of Jesus’ words. “You are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades, the door to the underworld will not prevail against it.” Now let’s return to the desert where the Israelites have no water. God tells Moses to hit the rock. Water came out and supplied the nation with water. Now picture a church being built on this rock. The question now is which source of water will you choose, where will you go to survive–the underworld, or the church? In order to make the right decision, it is necessary that you answer Jesus’ question: “Who do you say that I am.”
You would think that all the disciples would have raised their hands in unison to answer the question. “Of course, we know who you are. We were there when the paralytic walked home carrying his mat. We were there when the blind man gained his sight. We saw a leper’s skin heal of all its sores. We saw a dead twelve-year-old come back to life, we saw you feed 5000 with a few loaves of bread. Of course, we know who you are. Yet, only Peter answered the question. What makes Peter so different from the others? Let’s find out.
During the fourth watch of the night, sometime between four and five in the morning, while the disciples were in a boat tossed by the waves, Jesus walked toward them on the water. They cried in fear, but Jesus assured them that it was not a ghost. Peter asked Jesus: “If it you call me to join you on the water.” With the invitation, Peter got out of the boat and we know he began to sink. It is at this point of the story that Peter says the most important words anyone could say to God. He prayed the greatest prayer in the Bible: “Save me.” No other disciple said these words, no other disciple got out of the boat, and no other disciple experienced what it was like for Christ to extend His arm and pull Peter to safety. Only Peter knew what it was like to be saved.
Here is the faith lesson. It is okay to need God. The greatest thing we can do is turn to God when we are drowning in problems, or wasting away in suffering, doubt, or unhealthy lifestyles. If you can answer the question, “Who do you say that I am,” you will never make the wrong decision as the Israelites did, and be lured to the underworld.Back to All Homilies