Why a final judgement? Why is Peter shown with a chicken?
Jun 4, 2018
If through the Sacrament of Penance we are absolved from sin, why the Final Judgement?
Earlier this year (in February, to be precise), I answered a similar question about judgement, acknowledging that each of us in the moment of death is judged as either worthy of heaven or is consigned to hell in what we call the “particular judgement,” and how at the end of time there will be the “general judgement” when all is revealed as a means of exalting in Jesus’ victory over the powers of death. Such moments of judgement are required by justice, insofar as God Himself is just and all that is (both good and evil) must come to its proper fulfillment or end in Him. While it may appear that such judgement should not be necessary if we already have been absolved from sin – (assuming that the person who asks the question believes that once we are forgiven and our sins are forever taken away, it seems both unnecessary and even improper to be judged), might we consider the following: that all our actions (again, no matter if they are good or sinful) have consequences that affect others beyond ourselves. Thus, even if we are forgiven of our sins, justice requires that we are judged according to both the interior effects of both our good works and of our sins, as well as their effects upon all – for good or for ill. For all things will be revealed in Christ’s glorious second coming, insofar as the exaltation of His victory will be made manifest through both the good that was done and that which was left undone – as Jesus’ victory transcends all. Remember too that
judgement is not intended by God as a negative experience – and this is clear in a few of Jesus’ parables, especially that one which refers to diligent and faithful service of His disciples ending with the words “Well done, good and faithful servant….come, enter your master’s joy” (See Matthew 25:14-30).
For further reference, I invite you to check out the post on the parish website blog from February 12, 2018 entitled “General and Particular Judgement,” which is
accessed on the homepage of the www.stbensduluth.org under the menu item “Grow and Learn” by clicking on “Fr. Joel Hastings” and then clicking the February 2018
Why is there a chicken by the statue of St. Peter?
While many artistic renditions of St. Peter include his holding of keys (in light of Jesus’ words to Peter given in Matthew 16:19 that He gives to him “the keys to the kingdom”), not as many show the presence of a chicken, which also has origins in Scripture. In fact, all four gospels include Jesus’ words to Peter that Peter will deny Him three times the very night that Jesus is handed over to be put to death. What will be the sign to remind Peter when these denials happen? None other than the crowing of the cock (rooster). While there is discrepancy in the number of times the rooster will crow (as Mark says before the cock crows twice, whereas the other evangelists simply say “before the cock crows”), this is the unmistakable and consistent sign the marks the moments of Peter’s denial. Accordingly, some artists are compelled to depict a rooster as part of portraying Peter insofar as these types of details (like the keys) make the statue clearly identifiable with Peter (in a similar way as St. Joseph is often depicted with lilies, or the Blessed Virgin Mary is depicted as stepping on a serpent).
It ought to be noted that while Peter’s moment of denial seems hardly something to exalt in (which having the rooster depicted with him may seem to do), by
remembering his denials we also are calling to mind the mercy of God – expressed in Jesus’ three-fold asking of “do you love me?” to Peter after the Resurrection (John 21:15-19). Just as Peter was reconciled with Christ, the sight of the rooster with Peter hopefully reminds us that Jesus is ready to forgive and to reconcile us to Himself through His mercy just as He was for Peter after his three denials.