Come away with me to Saint Peter’s Square. Look up and see the statue of Saint Peter dominating the whole place. Walk around the Basilica and try to count the references to Saint Peter. Bend low in the caves and try to catch a glimpse of his tomb.
Here we begin to understand in a very different way that this Peter, our first pope, the one who is all over the New Testament, was a real person. He prayed with other early Christians and was martyred on this soil. We are his descendants in the same band of Christ’s followers.
We encounter this very Peter in today’s gospel. Jesus calls him “Satan,” and tells him to get out of his sight. Peter could not bear the idea that the One he had finally dared to name as Christ would be tortured and die like a common criminal. He could not, would not, understand on that day.
We can take heart from this gospel, because we know there is so much more to the story of Jesus and Peter, and to our own story. Failure is never the only chapter in the love story of God. So we can give ourselves and others the time to grow into God’s grace, in the sure and certain hope that God will lead us ever more deeply into his love.