Most people considered Simon a fellow from the wrong side of the tracks. His profession was in manual labor, he was pretty much illiterate, and lived a hand-to-mouth existence. He displayed a rather weak character, was often boastful and could be somewhat annoying. At times he exhibited fear under pressure and he could not always be depended upon to come through as a strong ally. There was a particular episode, when push came to shove, that he completely turned his back on a dear friend he claimed to love the most. He was impulsive, abrasive, and cocky and frequently didn’t know when to keep his mouth shut.
Fortunately, Simon had some very good qualities that outweighed his weaker ones.
Deep down, he loved his friends dearly and tried, though occasionally failed, to be a loyal friend. He had a willingness to learn. He could be very positive and in spite of his fear and weaknesses, he tried to be a good example to others and eventually, overcoming some of his greatest flaws, he went from being a “follower” to a great “leader.” He was very lucky to have an extraordinary teacher who helped him overcome many of his poor qualities. This mentor recognized something very valuable in this “rough around the edges” character. He truly was a diamond in the rough. In fact, Simon’s mentor had so much faith in him, he asked him to take over for him as his successor when he could no longer do the work he himself had started.
Simon is Simon Peter, better known as St. Peter. His mentor, of course, is Christ himself.
When we consider the life of Peter, how he was called by Jesus, how he was tutored and formed by Christ himself, we find great hope for ourselves. We come to realize, when reading the Gospels, that Jesus used unlikely people for great good. Sometimes we think we know better than Christ what is best for us. We ourselves have denied Jesus by our words or behavior. Other times we are weak and fearful and don’t turn to Jesus for the help and love that is always available to us. Like Peter, Jesus sees us as He wants us to be, not as we are. He continually invites us to know him and to follow him as a disciple. And, when the time is right for us, he asks us to become his apostles, leading others to him. Perhaps we will recognize the vastness of Christ’s love for us through the example of his love for Peter. Jesus’ love is always greater than our deficiencies.