Author: Ian Harris
Today we have a pretty short reading, just two lines, but I promise you they are significant. In John 1:41-42, John tells the account of Jesus changing Peter’s name. Yes, I do believe this is included to clear up confusion later on when Simon is known as Peter, but I also think it has deeper implications. Let’s start by thinking about the significance of a name. Our names are a very central part of who we are, who we know ourselves to be, and who the world knows us to be. By telling Peter “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Peter”, I think Jesus is demonstrating his authority over Peter, which in turns makes certain demands in Peter’s life.
Start with the authority part. In Genesis, after God creates all the animals of the earth, birds of the sky, mountains, plants, etc. he creates man. He makes man different than all the other creatures. He gives him an intellect, a will, a soul, as well as a certain level of authority over other living creatures. This dominion is clearly demonstrated when God gives Adam the right to name all other living things. This may seem subtle, but it is a very real truth that to name something gives one more power over it. We actually see this demonstrated very well in the rite of exorcism. Father Cesar Truqui, an exorcist in the Chur Diocese of Switzerland, says that one of the first thing a priest does in a major exorcism is demand in the name of Jesus that the demon reveal its name. “At the instant that the demon reveals his name, it shows that he has been weakened; if he doesn’t say it, he is still strong.” Naming brings power.
So what does this mean for Peter? For us? And what does this authority “demand”? Well first I think that Jesus changing Peter’s name clearly shows that Jesus is establishing himself as the person that should be at the center of Peter’s life. We can see through the rest of the Gospels that this is true, I mean Peter goes on to be the first pope so obviously this moment had a big impact on him. As for our lives, I don’t think Jesus is asking us to change our names to show that we follow him. Rather, he is asking us to change the way we live. If we want our relationship with Christ to make a real difference in the world it must first, make a real difference in our own lives. That means that Christianity cannot simply be a thing we do on Sunday. We cannot compartmentalize our lives. We need to find a way to invite Christ into even the most mundane activities, to hold absolutely nothing back from him. That sounds big, but I think it starts in very small ways. Maybe something as simple as quick prayer of thanks after we finish our homework or driving home without music so we can take time for prayer in the car. It may look different for everybody, but the point is the same, find a way to invite him in.
Once we are inviting Christ into our interior life on a daily basis, I think we will begin to see our own perspective change on what the faith is. By continuing to go back to prayer, the sacraments, and mass we will start to see that Jesus isn’t a mere aspect of our lives, but the very reason we live. In prayer this week I challenge you to look where you may not be letting Christ in. Maybe it is with a group of friends, your future plans, or your current relationship. Whatever it is he wants to be there and live it with you. Let’s follow St. Peter’s example and let Christ be the center of our lives and show the world what that looks like lived out.
St. Peter, Pray for us!