A rocky kind of hope
“But who do you say that I am?” … “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
The Matthean community would have struggled to make sense of Jesus’ promise of the kingdom of God after years of tragedy and ruin. The story of Jesus’ blessing and naming of Simon as ‘Peter’ offers hope that, in spite of pain and suffering and even in times of difficulty and despair, God is indeed a ‘living God’. The destruction of the temple must have been devastating for the people of Jerusalem and surely that which is destroyed demands to be rebuilt stronger than before. But this foundation ‘rock’ Jesus speaks of is not intended for an impressive new temple signalling a restoration of power. Instead it is a fragile, human foundation. This story highlighted to early Christians as it does to us today that a passionate, impulsive and uneducated person—a fisherman—could be a foundation for ‘church’. Then as now, church is the action of people called to live the way of Jesus, listening to and sharing the Good News, loving and forgiving others and upholding (fulfilling) the law. To be people of God.
The hope in Peter rests in his courage to trust what is revealed by God, in his love for Jesus and his willingness to follow. There’s hope, too, because we know Simon Peter has and will continue to make mistakes or miss the point—he recently started to sink in the Sea of Galilee due to his fear and lack of faith, and next he will be a ‘stumbling block’ as Jesus attempts to tell his disciples about his suffering and death to come. There’s hope because, in spite of this, Peter is ‘enough’ and still loveable. For Jesus, Peter is worth the risk.
There’s hope for us because we realise in spite of our repeated mistakes, we are enough and we are loveable.
For Jesus, Peter is worth the risk. There’s hope for us because we realise in spite of our repeated mistakes, we are enough and we are loveable. From this place of forgiveness, of ‘being enough’, we have the opportunity to become more courageous, truthful people. At a time when many of us are isolated from our normal sense of community, we are encouraged to be ‘rocks’ for one another—steady, safe, patient and faithful. May we continue to find hope in stories of the imperfectly good people like Simon Peter, the rocks on whom faith and love is built.