Sundays With Simon Peter–Rise, Fall and Rise Again


              We try to live lives for God rightly and fail.  The concept is good and the feelings are sincere. Those feelings can be even more solidified when we vow.  “I promise I will not drink too much.  I promise I will not freak out in anger.”  Fill in your blank.  Below is the “blank” experienced by Simon Peter. 

Mark 14:30 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice[e] you yourself will disown me three times.”

31 But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.

            So what is the worth of that effort?  It is not worthless.  When Peter got up that morning he had a disposition in his heart to be a good disciple.  He tried and failed which is better than not at all.  Judas was a corrupt disciple for a long time before the Last Supper so his outright betrayal is no surprise. 

 Luke 22: 60 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.

         When Peter weeps bitterly, he did that because he had parts that compliment the gospel.  But a biography of Jesus without the cross, resurrection and its significance is not the gospel but just a biography.   

        Peter weeps bitterly because Jesus his hero is becoming a victim and he feels complicit.  End of story.  A few days before Peter got promoted, then rebuked, then reiterated his loyalty hours before.  But to deny Jesus with these rollercoaster experiences put him in overload of the guilt variety. 

        I want to close with Jesus’ grace and Peter’s amnesia.  Jesus’ grace is available to all of us but the angle may be different.  Fundamentally, His grace is there to comfort us in suffering, empower us to resist temptation and directive for us to pass it on.  Below is how it was meant by Jesus earlier that night.


Luke 22:32

But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” 


            I have read in a few teachings that the word “strengthen” is confirm as in a confirming of an office.  That office of the apostle and what Catholics call apostolic succession includes being a sacramental sign of forgiveness.  Jesus knew Peter’s inadequacies and He knows ours.  Now that we know what John 3:16 means, do what you can by faith to see the turning of Jesus and his gaze.  But not in condemnation but knowing that He loves you and there is hope.  Religion that is not based on the cross will give us amnesia and we will be stuck with a biography and not the good news of Jesus.  Instead, remember that Jesus loves sinners, that means you, and be confident that He can restore you. 

Saturdays with Simon Peter




            There is a comfortable place in being submissive to someone greater than us.  Sure, to be a servant and be humble goes with humiliation often in Western culture, but with the status quo we know what to expect day by day.  Bob Dylan said we got to serve somebody, but when those we serve breaks through the bubble of hierarchy and blesses us, the nature of shame makes us appreciate it but then walk away due to the power of the master or mistress at hand. 

            But imagine, we the pauper serving the king, are told by that same king that we are going to be given dignity and relationship with him.  Even more, that the king will be our servant.  If it is ingrained in us to be in servitude, we could even be scared since the king keeps boundaries of the world around us to be reliable.  Will the world be topsy-turvy now?

            Such was the problem of Simon Peter, when Jesus turns the tables like that in the Last Supper. 

John 13:3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.


            Peter spoke up when Jesus talked about eating His flesh and drinking His blood saying they all had nowhere else to go but with Him.  Even though he doubted and sank, Peter did walk on water for some minutes when asked. 


            But being washed on his feet?  That is going too far. 


            Kind of funny when you think about how Peter being among those who baptized people for repentance.  Yet the difference is that the baptizer is in a place of power but the foot washer is the slave dealing with the smell and the grime of the day for a master. 


            Jesus explained how this was a mystery they would understand later.  It had to be later because the climax of the tension of grace and sin colliding was a few days away on the cross.  The mystery of the foot washing is unveiled in the light of day in Christ being the savior of our grime or dirt in sin. With the cross as the magnifying glass for how to live fully, we should lay our lives down for each other as long as we keep the simplicity of the gospel in mind. 


            Peter needed this.  He needed to know that there is going to be opportunities in God to follow this example.  In a way he more than others because as the first pope he needed to be willing to put others above himself since the good news of the kingdom of this peculiar King from Nazareth is that He came to switch those very paradigms that we hold far too dear. 

Sundays with Simon Peter–Paying Those Stinkin’ taxes




When one system approaches the individual saying, “Bow down!” the automatic response should be to resist.  It is normal for us to not submit to bonds because we are made by God to walk free, think free and talk free.

The story for today made me scratch my head at first.  I was not sure what to do with it.   

Matthew 16:24 After Jesus and his disciples arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma temple tax came to Peter and asked, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”

25 “Yes, he does,” he replied.

When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?”

26 “From others,” Peter answered.

“Then the children are exempt,” Jesus said to him. 27 “But so that we may not cause offense, go to the lake and throw out your line. Take the first fish you catch; open its mouth and you will find a four-drachma coin. Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.”

 After thinking about this story fir a bit, it seems to reinforce that Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it.  By this point in Matthew, Jesus is fairly close to the cross and the resurrection.  Jesus said early in his ministry that if they destroy this temple (meaning His body) He would raise it again in three days.  Even though the men running the stone temple were corrupt, Jesus was not insecure about where the long-term was going to be with God’s kingdom. 

 And even though the temple tax was above and beyond what was laid out in scripture, Jesus made a point of showing a shadow of redemption to come.  “Take it and give it to them for my tax and yours.” Jesus is the burden carrier for out sins and diseases.  Jesus, with the temple that was His body, and Peter his primary apostle were going to launch something that spreads a proclamation of God’s kingdom that is fundamentally peace in intent. 

The Balancing Act of Faith and Social Work






Below are the instructions for a discussion for my class and then my response for it.  As you may know, I have a Bachelors in Social Work and am currently working on my Masters in Social Work.  If you read this, please read until the end so you know where I am coming from.  I do not seek to offend anyone but also hope to challenge sensibilities of people that have fallen into seeing faith and traditional values into extreme applications.  


Please use this forum to discuss the debate around same sex marriage.  You may explore one of the following issues or one of your own design:

  • The rights and responsibilities that marriage confers.
  • The role of marriage in contemporary society.
  • The historical role of marriage.
  • Arguments for or against same sex marriage 
    • Similarities between these arguments and those made in Loving v. Virginia in 1967
  • Although the discussion boards do not normally consider the assigned readings, you may use this forum to discuss the Hodge article, including the following questions:
    • How does a social worker with a religiously conservative view of marriage work in a field with a more progressive stance? 

How does the field of social work respect both the diversity needs of the LGBT community and those of religiously conservative individuals?



         I was very glad to read the Hodge article.  My background includes over thirty years as an active, Protestant Christian and this past year I have become a Catholic Christian.  I am also in the Masters in Social Work program.  These respective identities do not contradict and I hope to show this through my observations. 


         One of the first things that resonated with me is how I at times have had to be either halfway in the closet in some social service settings and/ or work hard to qualify myself.  In other words, I would say I am a Christian but make sure to disavow the infamous Westboro Baptist Church.  Ideally, if the social work world was as diverse as Dr. Hodge wishes it to be, I would not have to do that.


         As to the issue of homosexuality, I would be on the side of the state having a right to regulate marriage between one man an one woman.  This is not a bigoted statement but just one that gives distinction to naturally distinct relationships. Traditional marriage has always been an inter-gender institution. 


         I disagree with the proposal for this discussion that the State of Virginia v. Loving is applicable.  The opinion of the local judge in that case upheld their arrest saying that God intended the races to be separate because of where He put them geographically in Genesis.  This was a judgment made to administer his interpretation of theocratic law where secular authorities should enforce laws according the natural law’s intent.    


         A proponent of gay marriage would say the same thing applies to Proposition 8, albeit erroneously due to a lack of understanding of diversity and what I call “value maintenance.”


         For diversity, we should understand that there is a fundamental understanding of males and females being different.  There are 98 documented differences between the sexes from head to toe.  Marriage honors the differences and the work it takes to start and maintain a relationship with such differences.  The Loving couple according to nature’s law brought diversity to each other inherently as male and female.  What’s more, they were even able to reproduce (although that is not to say that sterile heterosexual couples are less legitimate).


         The other aspect is the issue of value maintenance including who defines it or redefines it regarding the institution of marriage.  There are some polygamists that consider what they have to be sacred.  Sometimes siblings have wanted to be married and called that sacred.  There was once a Roman emperor who formally married his horse.  By what moral authority do we call the above unions invalid? 


         Finally on that argument, I have an analogy pertinent to what gay marriage proponents call an irrational fear of straight marriage being devalued.  If today a trillion dollars fall out of the sky in Maricopa County, we would instinctively be happy.  But then the truth would hit and we would see that the entire US economy would go into hyperinflation.  By having the US dollar spread around, then it loses its value.  With marriage losing its value as it is (e.g. cohabitation, frivolous divorce), it would not hurt the gay community to stick with the civil commitments. 


         As to where this leaves me as a Catholic, surprisingly I could still serve gay clients a majority of the time including in their partnership.  If Bob comes to me as a client dealing with the stress of his partner Mark suffering of cancer in the hospital, I would support him in processing the trauma of this and support him in being a support to his partner. 


         I can do this because a fundamental tenet of the Catholic Church is respecting the life and dignity of the person.  Although I can be pegged too quickly as a conservative, this tenet inspires me to help alleviate suffering wherever it is.  It inspires me to fight, peacefully, for the life of the unborn (Republicans say “Amen!”) but also against all executions (Republicans say, “Huh?”)  Though I would not exactly peg Jesus as a social worker, I would hope that as a believer in Him, his spiritual works would be shown in what I do.