Fidelity and fallibility

Speaking about today's Gospel, in which Simon Peter is given his new identity and mission (Matthew 16: 13-20), our homilist referred to the fact that the Gospels were definitely not written by spin doctors for the new Christian community's emerging leadership. Peter is stout-hearted, dependable and devoted, yes, but also rash, impetuous and utterly fallible. The Gospels diverge in many areas, with some events only appearing in one or two accounts - and even then, details might differ; but Peter's threefold denial of Jesus is recounted, with immense precision, in all four.

And yet... God, in his mysterious and unfathomable wisdom chose Peter - just as, with equally wise mystery, he chooses and calls each of us...

And as I listened to this homily it struck me that Peter's denials and fallibility are not the point. The important thing isn't Peter's weakness but God's strength; not Peter's disloyalty, but Jesus' steadfast love and fidelity. If the evangelists recount Peter's limitations it's because the Good News is about Jesus, and the power and extravagance of his redemptive, forgiving love, even - especially - for those we might call undeserving. Thus Peter's limitations - like ours - can become the means through which God's transforming grace can work and be revealed, if we will only allow it.

I then found myself remembering a sentence from our 1970 General Chapter. It's from the section on union and conformity with the Heart of Jesus, in a paragraph which speaks of contemplating his Heart in the heart of the world. Although these words are about Christ's presence in the world in general, they could also be applied to an individual, with all their gifts and limitations: It is in this very humanity whose fear and loneliness and love he shared that his GLORY must shine forth. 

May we become people whose fears and fallibility, as much as our generosity and goodness, allow Jesus' glory and Good News to shine forth...


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