John 21: 15-25
Matthew 16: 13-19
2 Cor. 11: 21-12: 9
On the feast of the holy supreme Apostles we recall the Gospel scene where St Peter, answering the Lord’s question, “…who do you say that I am?” says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”. And then the Lord says, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven”. God does nothing in vain and never wastes His gifts. He blesses Peter, although he was imperfect in flesh and mind, because He sees the very depths of his soul and testifies about him, revealing to him alone the truth about His Son.
And yet, the same Peter shows his weakness when his flesh and blood force him to immediately contradict the Lord, and later to deny Him three times. However, the Lord’s blessing over Peter did not go anywhere. Peter falls in his deeds and in his flesh, but still he answers the bitter questions of the resurrected Jesus from the very depths of his soul. — “Simon son of John, do you love me”?
— “You know everything; You know that I love you”. Yes, the Lord knows everything, and therefore, even after Peter’s betrayal, He does not break the promise that He once made saying, “you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it”.
The Lord sees Paul, His second pillar and once a fierce persecutor of the church, even deeper. With one touch and one question, “Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” the Lord revives him to life. And now both Peter and Paul are doing God’s work, giving both their flesh and their blood as a sacrifice to Him.
There is no wiliness in a God’s servant. He is open to everyone, “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I am not indignant? ” Unlike those who live according to the flesh and boast their blessings from the king, a God’s servant boasts “with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless floggings…” Some boast that the king fulfils their every request. A God’s servant, on the other hand, admits, “a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated”.
Gradually transforming their flesh and blood, the Lord raises His chosen ones even to the point “being caught up into Paradise” in their lifetime and hearing “things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat”. And beyond that, He also gives them “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” and says “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven”.
So, in every person there is a depth where he does not see himself, and still, it is him, and no one else. God alone sees, for example, how the “stone” Peter is hidden deep in the fisherman Simon, and how the “chosen vessel” is hidden in the persecutor Saul. The Lord begins to lay the foundation of His Church precisely from this innermost depth. A servant of God stands so firmly because, no matter how high God exalts him, his broken heart is always in the depths of his previous fall. Paul says about himself that he is “unfit to be called an apostle”, because he “persecuted the church of God” (1 Cor. 15: 9) while Peter cries until his death, hearing the cock crowing.
The Lord says to the fallen one “Remember then from what you have fallen” (Rev. 2: 5). Similarly the one who is exalted must remember where the Lord raised him from, so that truly “nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39).
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds