Partial Credit

June 30th, 2013 Posted in writing

As far as I know there’s no patron saint of partial credit, but I’d like to nominate St. Peter for the job.

Peter’s finest moment came when he declared that Jesus was the Messiah sent by God, and Jesus told him this was just the kind of faith that would make Peter a solid foundation for the church. Peter’s answer had been right, very right.

But shortly after that (according to St. Matthew’s gospel), Peter showed that he didn’t fully understand what he had said, for when Jesus spoke about the need for the Messiah to suffer and die, Peter told him he shouldn’t talk like that. Jesus recognized that Peter was saying the same thing that Satan had said in the desert. So he told him, “Get behind me, Satan!”

Still, Jesus did not send Peter away. He knew that though he didn’t understand what Jesus’ being the Messiah would entail, at least he knew that Jesus was the Anointed One of God. That was a lot. And Jesus trusted Peter would keep on learning what that truly meant because his heart was in the right place.

When it comes to following Jesus, aren’t we like Peter? We have affirmed Christ as our Lord, even though the depth of what that means and will demand of us is something we must keep on learning. But we can be consoled by the realization that having even a partial understanding is far better than being totally in the wrong and that, as long as we do our best to follow him, Christ will help us learn the other things we need to know.

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