Monday, December 5, 2016

Peter: Keys to Following Jesus (Ignatius Press)

When it comes to important figures in Church History, St. Peter is easily in the top five. Last year Augustine Institue released a DVD program called Lectio: Peter by Dr. Tim Gray. This year Augustine Institute teamed up with Ignatius Press to release a book, also by Dr. Tim Gray titled Peter: Keys to Following Jesus. The book begins with a foreword that states the purpose in writing this book, with one of those purposes being "to impart a theology of discipleship and evangelization based on seven interactions between Jesus and Peter. Each interaction comes after a failure on the part of Peter to understand or act properly." The book is then divided into ten chapters, with the first seven referencing the aforementioned quote, one on Peter and Pentecost, one on Peter coming to Rome, and the final chapter discusses Peter's own Way of the Cross.

The seven encounters Peter had with Jesus were as follows:
1. Jesus recruiting Peter to be an Apostle after Peter was fishing all night
2. Jesus healing Peter's mother-in-law and setting up "headquarters" in Capernaum
3. Peter's lack of faith when he was out at sea and the storm came and failing to walk on water
4. Peter becoming the rock on which Jesus will build His Church
5. Peter being given the keys to the Kingdom
6. Peter's increasing leadership and his presence at the Transfiguration
7. Peter's failure and denial during Jesus' Passion

Each of these chapters was very interesting and made you stop and meditate on these different episodes in the life of Peter. We see growth in Peter, but we also see him fall and fail repeatedly too. However, he doesn't stay down and defeated. He goes back to Jesus, because he knows that Jesus is the only one who can save him. The most interesting chapter to me was actually the final one in this book, which focused on Peter's own passion. This chapter relies primarily on Church Tradition, and in it we see Peter fleeing Rome, because the Christians of Rome felt he was too important to be martyred and the Church needed him. As he was fleeing, he encountered Jesus on the road, who said that He was going to Rome to be crucified again (basically implying that Peter was abandoning Rome, but Jesus would not). This opened Peter's eyes and with Jesus' help (again), Peter realized what he needed to do. He went back to Rome and strengthened God's people, even though this ultimately led to Peter being crucified too.

Peter: Keys to Following Jesus is a very important work for any Christian to read. It doesn't paint us a picture of a perfect man, but instead we see a man, like us, who is flawed in nature, but struggling to do the right thing. However, with  God's help, he was able to become a great saint and one of the pillars of the Catholic Church. If you are looking for a thoughtful and thought-provoking study on the life and ministry of Peter, I highly recommend this book to you.

This book was provided to me for free by Carmel Communications in exchange for an honest review.