Simon Peter

Lament of Saint Peter Vignon Wikimedia Commons

Lament of Saint Peter
Wikimedia Commons

Simon Peter had many qualities I can identify with. He frequently misunderstood Jesus (Matthew 16:16 and 22-23) and some of His simplest parables (Matthew 15:15). He professed great faith, vowing his allegiance to Jesus unto death (Matthew 26:33-35). But, when tested quickly abandons Him (Matthew 26:58). Peter’s explicit denial of Jesus is particularly abhorrent (Matthew 26:69-75).

When I look back on my life, I see times when I failed like Peter to understand some of the simplest teachings of Christ’s Church. Likewise when tested, I too failed to properly defend Christ’s Church and Her teachings.

These qualities are not to be admired or emulated. But there is another side of Peter. It is this side of Peter that lead him to be first among Jesus’ disciples. This is the side of Peter we should strive to be, to emulate.

Peter was repentant. He admitted his sinfulness to Jesus (Luke 5:9). We too should admit our sinfulness to Christ. He is merciful and forgiving. Abundant grace flows through the sacrament of penance.

Peter invited Jesus to stay in his home (Mark 1:29-33 and 2:1-2). We too should invite Christ to dwell with us in our homes. Faith, hope and charity should flow from our family and our home.

Peter left everything behind to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:19-20). Is Christ first in our life? Does Christ walk with us in our work and recreation?   This is what Christ calls us to. This is what Simone Peter did. Peter left behind his old life for new life with Christ.

Peter stepped forward when others would not (Matthew 14:28-29, Acts 1:15-16; and 2:14-47). We are called to evangelize, to step forward in the light and truth of Christ. We need not fear. When we step forward, Christ and the Holy Spirit will be with us. They will protect us, embolden us, and provide all we need.

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Christ "The Light of the World" Paris Bordone Wikiemedia Commons

Christ “The Light of the World”
Paris Bordone
Wikiemedia Commons

Darkness is our preference. Through our concupiscence, this is how we begin and what we continually struggle against, the allurements of the flesh, the seduction of pride. We naturally favor “darkness to light” (John 3:19).

But, we were not made for darkness. We were made for light. We are continually being called from darkness to light.   The dark allurements of the flesh, the seductive nature of pride can be conquered.

The snares of the world, the imperfections of our being are clearly seen in the presence of light. In light, the snares of the world can be seen and avoided by devout attention. When exposed in light, the imperfections of our being can be corrected by a turning our heart from darkness to the light of the Lord.

A heart dwelling in the light of Lord can attain perfection through perseverance, a surrendering of self and a renunciation of earthly vanities.   A heart dwelling in light flees the dark allurement of flesh and pride. A heart dwelling in light is filled with charity, abides in hope and lives by faith alone.

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To Those Who Have Denied Jesus

St. Peter in Penitence El Greco Wikimedia Commons

St. Peter in Penitence
El Greco
Wikimedia Commons

“I will not deny you,” was Peter’s and the other disciples’ reply to Jesus’ statement that “this night all of you will have your faith in me shaken.” (Matthew 26:30-35). Yet, a few hours after their vow that they would not deny Him, they fled and left Him.

Like the disciples, we may deny and flee Christ or His body the Church when our faith is shaken. But this need not be the end of our faith or our relationship with Christ Jesus.

We need only look to Jesus’ response to Peter, who denied Him three times, and the disciples, who abandoned Him. Christ’s first words on seeing them were: “Peace be with you.” (Luke 24:36). Christ responded with the love and mercy to Peter’s denials and His disciples’ abandonment of Him. This same inconceivable love and mercy is available when we, who have sinned against Him, seek to return to Him.

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To Hope

Schnorr von Carolsfeld Faith, Hope, and Charity Wikimedia Commons

Schnorr von Carolsfeld
Faith, Hope, and Charity
Wikimedia Commons

“Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:3-5). Hope is one of the three theological virtues infusing a faithful heart with sanctifying grace. Faith and charity are the other two theological virtues, with hope spring from faith and charity flowing from hope.

Hope has it origins in God, it is grounded in believe and faith in the Him, a placing of confidence and trust in Him. It is a result of the Holy Spirit pouring grace into the heart. Hope inflames a desire to live with God for eternity in His kingdom, and it protects and sustains the heart through discouragement and abandonment.

Hope is confidence and assurance in God’s goodness and providential care. A life lived in hope, is a life lived in service to God.

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To Righteousness

Abraham and Three Visitors Wikimedia Commons

Abraham and Three Visitors
Wikimedia Commons

God displays and imparts righteousness. We are recipients of His righteousness. He is faithful to His promises and generous in charity and mercy. It is His love that maintains our relationship with Him and imparts righteous to us.   We may turn away, and stray. He remains faithful and true. In our fallen nature, we struggle and sin.   He continually calls us back from our brokenness and sin.  He patiently waits for our return to shower us with His mercy.

We are transformed through His mercy and grace.  Our relationship with Him is made righteous. We are made to know Him, to do His will, to serve Him. Through His grace we are drawn deeper, drink more deeply and increase in righteousness.

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According to His Word

Samuel Cousins Child in Prayer Wikimedia Commons

Samuel Cousins
Child in Prayer
Wikimedia Commons

How should we respond to what God has reveled to us in prayer, His written word, and teachings and traditions of His Church?   His Blessed Mother provides us with a beautiful example in her response to the Angle Gabriel, “let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38) and her good counsel at the wedding feast in Cana, “do whatever he tells you” (John 2:6).

Do we response like she did, with a joyous, “according to your word.”  Or, is our response more like that of ancient Israel, where there “was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes”(Judges 21:25).

Remember, each time we pray the Our Father, we petition the Lord with “Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).  May we do whatever He tells us, according to His word.

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The Affects of Sin

Lorenzo Lotto Christ and the Adulteress Wikiemedia Commons

Lorenzo Lotto
Christ and the Adulteress
Wikiemedia Commons

Sin affects our relationship with God, but it does not alter His relationship with us.  He is forever our loving father.  Sin is an act of unfaithfulness, a turning of heart from the Lord to another, a rebuff of our sonship. The Lord willed us into being to participate in a loving relationship with Him. We are His sons and daughters, who He loves dearly.  Our rebuff does not cause Him to withdrawn His love.  He respects our decision to withdraw from Him and waits for our return.  He is forever the faithful and, for a returning son or daughter, is always ready to lavish on them His mercy.  Trust in His faithfulness, return and immerse yourself in His great love and mercy.

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To Seeking Forgiveness

Bartolome Murillo The Return of the Prodigal Son Wikimedia Commons

Bartolome Murillo
The Return of the Prodigal Son
Wikimedia Commons

Those seeking forgiveness of their sins should not fear the Lord. His mercy is without limits and is available to all who approach Him seeking forgiveness.

Prepare your heart. Humble yourself. Rend your heart and not your garments (Joel 2:13).   Express your desire to turn from sin and surrender all attachment to sin.

The Lord asks more than a mere adjustment to how we live our life.  He asks for penitential works and a sacramental confession of sins.  He desires an internal conversion manifested in visible signs, gestures and works (Catechism of the Catholic Church ¶1430).  We are to rend our heart and turn away from sin, and return to Him with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning (Joel 2:12).

Trust in the Lord, hope abounds in His mercy and grace. “Do not fear, only believe” (Mark 5:36).

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Be a Missionary

Ecstasy of St. Francis Giotto di Bondone Wikimedia Commons

Ecstasy of St. Francis
Giotto di Bondone
Wikimedia Commons

The United States of America is missionary territory filled with people seeking truth and love.  They know what their heart desires, but wander about aimlessly and follow those more lost than they in their quest of truth and love.

Their creator placed the desire for truth and love in their heart.  What they desire is their creator, who is truth and love.

As baptized Catholics we are called to engage the world, not to separate ourselves from it or to accommodate it, but to transform it with the truth and love of Christ Jesus.  The full truth of Christ Jesus resides in the church he established, and his grace and love flows abundantly from the sacraments he left her.

We are called to be witnesses to this truth and love.  This is what Christ Jesus commissioned his apostles and disciples with, and this is what we were commissioned with through our baptism.

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To the Great Mysteries of Faith

Christ with Eucharist Joan de Joanes Wikimedia Commons

Christ with Eucharist
Joan de Joanes
Wikimedia Commons

Three great mysteries of our faith are the Trinity, Incarnation and Eucharist. Mathias Josef Scheeben, a German theologian of nineteenth century, saw a relationship between these three great mysteries.

In the Trinity, the Son of God is mysteriously present in the Father and dwells with Father and Holy Spirit through all eternity.  In the Incarnation, from the “bosom of the Father” the Son of God, Jesus Christ, mysteriously enters the world through the womb of the Blessed Mother and takes on flesh and dwells among men.  In the Eucharist, the Jesus Christ mysteriously unites Himself with His church and enters in and incorporates His real presence, His true flesh and true blood, His soul and divinity in those who partake of Him in the Eucharistic.

These are the great mysteries of our faith.  One god in three persons; Jesus Christ, true god and true man; bread and wine, while retaining the appearance of bread and wine, through transubstantiation become the true flesh and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ.

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