Disciples of Jesus must make a profession of faith, as illustrated by Jesus’ question to the disciples: “Who do you say that I am?” During His life here on earth, He quizzed His followers to see how much they understand and how much is still to be learned. Peter gives the correct answer and gives Jesus enough faith so that He can establish Peter as a solid foundation for leadership in this community of believers. In doing so, Jesus isn’t attesting to Peter’s perfection. In fact, it is something altogether different from that. This is but one more incident where Peter is able to give the correct answer but is later not able to live up to his profession of faith. He falters and sins, he falters and sins. He makes for a great leader and a great foundation for our community of faith. We all falter and sin, and we start again before faltering again. Through seeking out forgiveness, acknowledging our own sins and coming closer to Jesus each time, we keep building on the foundation that Jesus formed with His disciples. We aren’t perfect but Jesus can use our stops and starts of faith to give hope to others and to show what true discipleship looks like.
One of the keys of the kingdom is the power to bind and to loosen. That power is entrusted to Peter and in turn to those who follow in his footsteps. Jesus anticipated that we would need to be loosened from some things. Jesus knew that there would be things and people that we would become attached to in such a way that we might mistake them for Jesus. We need to be loosened from greed and arrogance. We need to be loosened from using other people for our own means and against their best interest. We need to be loosened from our prejudices against others and our close-mindedness and stubbornness. We need to be loosened from our need to control and have things our way. Even through the grace of God, given to us through His Church and each other, has loosened us again and again, we seem to repeat the same unhealthy choices.
Take a look at the last couple of times you did a survey of your life and your choices. Isn’t it true that there is a pattern of our sins? We keep repeating them. We think we learn but we fall back again and again. Our one King has given us the grace to be forgiven again and again. And we must if we are ever to truly let Jesus be the King of our minds and hearts and bodies.
St. Louis the King, patron of our archdiocese, has come into some tough times lately. It might be because someone has lifted him too high. We don’t make statues of him because he is perfect, but because he gave us some glimpses of the True King in his earthly life. Was he perfect? No. Was he a reflection of God’s love for some? Yes. Let us pray that his statue, his remembrance and his patronage of our archdiocese might remind us of the True King, the one who is all in all and perfect in every way!
Father Wester is pastor of All Saints Parish in St. Peters.