The Tears of the Fisherman: The Liberating Power of Humility and Repentance in the Life of Simon Peter

The Tears of the Fisherman: The Liberating Power of Humility and Repentance in the Life of Simon Peter


Kevin Burke, LSW

Just hours before Peter’s denial, the Apostles gathered for what would be their final Passover meal together. Peter felt strong, secure and confident gathered with Jesus and the other apostles.  With all sincerity, he offered to give his life for Jesus.

…Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to both prison and to death!” 

Luke 22:31

But just a few short hours later… all hell was breaking loose.

Peter must have been shaken that Jesus did not resist arrest, and now his once powerful Master suffered abuse as he was spit on, beaten, and mocked by the Temple guards. 

In the late darkness of the night, as that Good Friday dawn was approaching, weary from lack of sleep, Peter was alone and separated from his fellow apostles.  His beloved Master was no longer preaching and performing spectacular miracles like raising Lazarus from the dead.

Jesus was facing the horror of Roman crucifixion.  Peter was shaken by these events and feared for his life.  In that fear and isolation, he denied the one he pledged to defend and protect.

It is a sign of the validity of the Gospel accounts that any political movement or religion would have one of its key foundational leaders presented in such an unflattering light.   Peter as leader of the Apostles must have approved of such a depiction of his betrayal.  No doubt it was the fruit of his tearful repentance, humility and later his post-resurrection restoration by Jesus as leader of the early Christian Church.  (John 21, 15-19)

What a consolation to us in our moments of fear and weakness when in various ways, we abort God’s will for our lives.

Liberating Repentance  

Pope Benedict XVI wrote of the example of Peter and his words have a special significance for those who have participated in any way in an abortion decision:

The school of faith is not a triumphal march but a journey marked daily by suffering and love, trials and faithfulness. Peter, who promised absolute fidelity, knew the bitterness and humiliation of denial: the arrogant man learns the costly lesson of humility. Peter, too, must learn that he is weak and in need of forgiveness. Once his attitude changes and he understands the truth … he weeps in …liberating repentance… he is finally ready for his mission.     

Benedict XVI

This is the Good News for all who have participated in the death of an unborn child – but in a special way this speaks to fathers. 

Like many men, Peter wanted to be strong and do the right thing, but in a time of fear and weakness he failed.  Peter is chastened and humbled by his fall, and after repentance and restoration now understands that he cannot rely on his own strength – but in the power of Jesus.

It is challenging for men to put aside their pride and admit they failed to protect their unborn child from death.  But the Lord waits for them with mercy and forgiveness.  Jesus will not condemn them for their sin, but rather give them the grace of grieving their loss in liberating repentance.

In the healing of this loss men will, like the Apostle Peter, discover another gift in their healing journey – a unique vocation in the Body of Christ.

What a great blessing it will be for our families, Churches and nation when the millions of men involved in abortion decisions turn to Christ for healing and restoration. 

What a powerful army will be unleashed to share the light of the Gospel, empowering men in their mission to defend the sanctity of life in all its stages, and to protect the dignity of women, who are the beloved daughters of their heavenly Father.

[Excerpt from Tears of the Fisherman]


Original song about the journey of Peter the Fisherman to Mount Tabor to witness the Transfiguration of Jesus:


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