Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Reflection on Peter: A Call as You Are

One of my most favorite people in the bible (apart from Jesus, of course) are the apostles, especially Peter. There's something about who they are I am drawn to. I think it is because the apostles are characterized as flawed individuals, people who I think I would be able to relate to.

To think, of all of the people Jesus could have called to be his disciples, of those whom he chose to build the early Church, he called people who do not seem, at first glance, to be especially extraordinary. I mean, come on, fishermen? (Not that I have anything against fishermen).

Throughout the Gospels, Peter is depicted as one who lacks faith, someone who likes to speak before he thinks. He is firm in what he says, yet has a difficult time following up on his promises. The sinking in the water, the thrice denial of knowing Jesus...he's one of those whom you may say: "well, his heart is in the right place..."

The Easter season for Catholics is the primary time in which we listen to the Acts of the Apostles during Mass, and the Peter that is depicted in the gospels is starkly different from the Peter in Acts. Peter is seen as more confident, more wise. Peter, knows, however that the strength of his authority does not come from his own self, but through the grace of God. For example, in Acts 3, Peter is able to cure a crippled beggar, not of his own accord, but through the invocation of Christ's name. The emphasis is always on Jesus, never on Peter.

I do not necessarily think that Peter's personality radically changed. I think the Peter of Acts is, at his essence, the same Peter we read about in the Gospels. The difference, I think, is that Peter truly believes his life has been infused, inspired, and impelled by the Holy Spirit, that God will work through him if he only has faith. He is able to do things in a new way because he sees the world in a whole new way. He is the same Peter, yet able to do new things he was not able to before.

When I think about my Jesuit brothers, I sometimes think about them like the Apostles, like Peter. We are sinners, we have our own flaws and weaknesses. We are not, just because we have entered religious life, radically different men then before we entered. But, it is that faith in God, that belief that Christ can work in us and through us if we just believe, that helps us to do things we may not have felt possible otherwise. We are ourselves, yet can go beyond ourselves, through the Holy Spirit.

But, we often fail, and many times our faith may waver. Yet, Christ is our center, Christ is our foundation. We must necessarily rely on the help of Jesus to live this life faithfully. Everyday, we seek for Christ to grow His roots deeper into us, to more firmly ground us. Christ, who brings light to our darkness. Christ, who breathes new life into us, making us fully alive.

If we are grounded, if we are faithful, then the power, the example of our lives through Christ is immense. Ideally, through our lives, we are able to inspire others likewise, to build the kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. Day by day, brick by brick.

And so, in this Easter season, let us rejoice and be glad in all that God has done for us and is doing for us. Let us have faith that God can work in us and through us, just as we are, that through Christ, we are able to realize and magnify the fullness of our humanity. That, in the dying to ourselves, we may come into fuller and richer life for the great glory of God. Amen! Alleluia!

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