It’s really quite humorous. Peter addressing the crowd with such self-assurance, such self-confidence in today’s first reading… he’s almost condescending! Not long before this speech before the Sanhedrin, however, it was poor Peter dropping the keys after being installed as prince of the apostle, given the keys to the kingdom of heaven, called by Jesus “rock” or Cephas! Shortly after that Jesus calls him Satan because he tries to derail Jesus from his vocation (“Get behind me!”). So, when Peter proclaims, “Why are you amazed at this, and why do you look so intently at us as if we had made him walk by our own power or piety?” must we forget today’s Gospel when Jesus had just asked his disciples — Peter included — a question as well, “”Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts?”
But I know I am no different than Peter; my faith can swing from certitude to doubt in a moment.
So, I’ve come to reverence what I call the “second chance” narratives in the Gospels. Remember several weeks ago when Jesus told the parable of the unproductive fig tree? The owner wished to cut it down because after three years it still produced no fruit. But his servant offered to cultivate around it and fertilize and give it a little more time. A second chance.
I also like that story in Mark 8 when Jesus heals the blind man, but the man responds, “Yes, I can see, but people appear like trees walking!” And Jesus must try again, healing the man for the second time.
I’m glad to be given a second chance. And a third, and…
Fr. Jack Conley, C.P. is a member of the Passionist formation community at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.