Luke 22:31-32: And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail: and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren."
So, this has been percolating in my brain. The above passage, as you may recall, is sometimes used as a defense of claims of papal infallibility, universal jurisdiction, what have you. Pope = most important guy stuff. However, let me just say what my thoughts were when I read the passage. We know that Jesus was foretelling Peter's denial of Him. But, Jesus had prayed for him, so that he would return to Christ. Which did also happen.
Righty-o. So, Satan sifts Peter, but Peter does repent of his sin in denying Christ and returns to Him. Whereupon the next part comes into play: Jesus' prayer that Peter's faith will not fail. It can't have been for *before* Peter denied Him, because if it was, then Peter would never have denied Him. *After* Peter's denial, his repentance, and his forgiveness, it was Christ's prayer that Peter's faith should never fail. And, so far as I am aware, it never did. He made errors, he was human, and also a Saint, but his faith in Christ never wavered. (It occurs to me that one might think St. Peter's faith wavered when he was leaving Rome and met Christ entering Rome, but there's no evidence that he was fleeing from a lack of faith. And, when Christ responded that He was going to Rome to be crucified again, St. Peter turned right around and went back to Rome and his own martyrdom. So...I don't believe that that would count. Of course, if someone does know of an instance where we have evidence that St. Peter's faith wavered, I'm certain they will kindly point me to it.)
Christ prayed that after Peter's return to Him, not only would his faith remain strong, but that he would strengthen his brethren. Why should that mean anything other than what it says? The line, 'The burned hand teaches best.' comes to mind. St. Peter's been there. He's *walked* with Christ. With *God*. Spoken to Him, called Him friend, called Him Master and Lord. And even then, he's fallen down and hidden in fear. And he's realized his mistake, and turned back to God. Of all people, St. Peter would understand fear and doubt and temptation, and the reward of surpassing them, and the pain of falling victim to them. Who better to help shore up his brothers' faiths than someone who can honestly say that they've been there, that they understand.