Sunday, January 22, 2006

Reflection for Evening Prayer Jan 20th

In today’s gospel (Mark 3:13-19), we see God’s hidden wisdom revealed (cf 1 Cor 2:7-10a). Jesus summons those who he wants. They come to him, and he appoints twelve of them as apostles. The names of those who were called by Jesus to be apostles are well known to us. But they were even more well known to Jesus. He knew them through and through. He knew their strengths, their weaknesses, their vices and their virtues, and he loved them and continually called them to what Pope John Paul II called the “school of faith.” Only in God’s wisdom, only in Jesus’ revelation of himself and His Father to the disciples, made clearer to them with the coming of the Holy Spirit, could these simple men learn to grow in faith, hope and love, though like each of us, they were, sometimes full of doubts, sometimes competing with each other to be the best, or sometimes relying on their own strengths instead of on the Lord.
Looking at the life of Saint Peter, we can know what this school of faith entails. Meeting the Lord through his brother, Andrew, Peter in getting to know the Lord also comes to know himself as well. After working all night and not catching any fish, Peter comes face to face with how little his faith is when he sees, after objecting to Jesus’ request that they put out into the deep for a catch, that with the Lord, that which may seem impossible to man is possible to God. Peter, seeing his own unbelief, would have Jesus leave him. Yet Jesus, in his gentle faithfulness will not let him remain discouraged, but instead calls him again to the task he has for him, that of being a fisher of men.
After professing his faith in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of the living God, Peter meets another set back when he comes to find out that, despite getting it right concerning who Jesus is, he is rebuked by Jesus for trying to impede him from going to the cross simply because the prediction of the passion challenges Peter’s notion of who Jesus is. Yet, to comfort Peter and prepare him for the scandal of the cross and death of Jesus, the Lord leads him up to a mountaintop where he reveals his glory to him, giving him the needed impetus to face the coming trial.
When Peter thinks that he will die with Jesus and stand by him till the end, Peter comes face to face with just how weak he is and how quickly he denies his Lord when it could mean his life. Yet Jesus, after the resurrection invites Peter to renew his love for him and calls him again to continue the journey that he set out on, a journey that would end with Peter dying giving witness to Jesus, standing firm in the end after having learned, despite many falls, to place his trust in the Lord.
At anyone of these falls, Peter could have become so discouraged as to stop trying to advance in the spiritual life. He could have said that there was no way for him to overcome his faults or his vices so he should not try. He could have given up and justified his surrender using his knowledge of Jesus’ forgiveness as an excuse not to try to continue in the way of perfection. Instead, he continued to listen to the call of the Lord, a call that led Peter face to face with his own self-conceit, so that he could learn after many falls just how much he trusted in his own strength and needed to trust the Lord completely.
Peter instead began to live in the mystery to which the Lord calls each one of us, a mystery in tension between two extremes, that of grace and that of corresponding to grace. Jesus called Peter and all the apostles, and even us, to enter through the narrow gate, to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. And yet when we fail by our own efforts, when our self-conceit lays in ruins, we will begin to see even more clearly what Jesus means when he says to us “What is impossible to man is possible to God,” and we will grow in the school of faith, growing in our trust of God and of his power to overcome all our weaknesses and sins, a trust that will spur us to eagerly set out for the deep, and with God’s help, bring in a great catch.


Qora 'ahaba ~ Hebrew for beam of love said...

thank you, chris. this is exactly what i need today. i am off to speak with people who may be instrumental in setting up my nonprofit that i am so anxious to get to work on with adolescent males. i just want to shine Christ's light for them. i want them to see his beauty and also his holiness. in seeing his holiness, we see how far short we fall; in seeing his beauty, we see how far down He reaches. thank you, again, brother christopher. keep in touch. love in Christ and God bless you!
~ joshua gravis (not "graves")

Br. Chris Gaffrey, ofm said...

Sorry about the typo... it's been corrected.