Tuesday, August 16, 2011

19th Sunday



“We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.” --Pope John Paul II, WYD 2002 in Toronto.

We see this foundational principle of our Christian faith in action in today’s Gospel. Peter, the first pope, the leader of the Apostles, the Rock on whom the Church is built, is fearful and preoccupied with the difficulties of the world around him. Peter’s
faith fails. Yet Peter’s life is not summed or totaled by his failures and weaknesses.
“We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.”

Peter’s failure today is NOT the absence of a life vest or water skies. His failure is letting his fear of the waves trump his trust in Jesus who conquers the waves and loves Peter so much he would give his life for Peter’s. Keep your eyes on Jesus. I want to focus on three things: the power of Jesus, the waves, and the reprimand.

The power of Jesus is manifest again today, in the verses just after the feeding the 5000 that we proclaimed last weekend. This power is not something new to the Apostles, even though they act surprised. It is important to note that the Bible is not a book of outlandish miracles, as some characterize it to be. The Scriptures DO have miracles but they are limited to three characters: Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. Miracles aren’t the total story of Scripture but they are used to point to the power of God. Jesus is mighty, with power to save, and we should look to him at all times.

The waves surrounding Peter were real waves that really threatened their boat and then Peter’s own life. The waves are also symbolic of the powers of this world of sin that Jesus conquers by dying and rising. We know the voice of the waves: “God has no answer for the problems of modern man. God has no answer for unwanted pregnancy. God has no answer for same-sex attraction. God has no answer for poverty. God has no answer for my arguments on atheism. God has no answer.”


Like Peter, the waves swamp us when we loose sight of and confidence in Jesus Christ. Our problems are a fact, they are questions to be asked but they have an answer in Jesus Christ. Confidence in this reality is the essence of faith. Faith does not turn a blind eye to the waves, rather, faith looks beyond the waves to the one who calms them with the soles of his feet.

“We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.”

The reprimand that Jesus gives is made in pure love. Why does pure love reprimand Peter? Because Peter is capable of more. Peter, in his human weakness and fickleness, is capable of walking toward and with Jesus amidst the waves. We too are capable of walking amidst the waves of our own day in union with Jesus. We have a real capacity to become the image of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit to the world around us. This is the Kingdom of God. This is the life of the Church. This is your calling.


Cross posted at www.piusxiinewman.com

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