Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Blessed are you, Simon bar Jonah

"Your are the Christ, the Son of the Living God" - Matthew 16
I love Simon Peter; so many all-too human qualities in the first Pope. Peter was the head of the Apostles, and the first to recognize who and what Christ was. As we read in today's Gospel, he became Cephas , the Rock upon which Christ would build His Church.

Simon Peter also made a blithering fool of himself trying to pitch tents when Jesus was transfigured in His glory with Moses and Elijah. He also lost faith is Jesus's power to sustain him, as he walked towards Him on the water. Finally, he ran from his Master and denied their friendship at the first whiff of trouble. Worse, Peter did so after blustering about his loyalty during dinner.

This gives me comfort, that Peter and those who followed - some saints, some scoundrels - up to and including the Holy Father Benedict XVI, are sinning, fallible men. I read somewhere that John Paul II had his own confessor he went to on a weekly basis, knowing his own sinning nature well enough to sacramentally confess to God regularly, setting an example for us all.

St. Peter, like all the Popes who followed, was a man. Not impeccable, not perfect. Just a man, with a very important task - to help ensure Christ's promise that the gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church. Those gates have been tested and tried over the centuries, by Schism, Reformations, Counter Reformations, and Scandal. The gates stand strong. The promise remains fulfilled.

Thank you Simon bar Jonah...for being the Man you are.

Feast of the Chair of St. Peter
Daily Mass Readings
1 Peter 5:1-4
Psalm 123:1-6
Matthew 16:13-19

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A hard teaching

For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? - Matthew 5
I've written about this before; when today's Gospel passage comes up, I find myself challenged. It seems reasonable, does it not, to love one's friends and hate one's enemies? Sounds pretty much like the natural order of things to me. Why then, does Jesus ask this of me? It feels so much easier to be reasonable in this instance.

What's He saying to us in the above passage; that indeed it is easy to love those who also love us. Love is already there; there are no obstacles to it. Everyone, good and evil, can love those who love them in return.

"BIIIIIIIG deal!", I imagine Jesus saying.

What of the people we find irritating? Annoying? Downright reprehensible? The reasonable human response is to back away, gossip about, condemn such people, and perhaps worse. Jesus asks us to demonstrate His love by loving them as well.

This is a hard teaching for me. However, it reminds me that Jesus dwells in each and every person whether they know it or not, whether they like it or not, whether we always see it or not. We are to recognize that indwelling and inherent Love.

God, help me to help others see Your face, through my actions and reactions.

Daily Mass Readings
Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18
Psalm 103:1-4,8,10,12-13
1 Corinthians 3:16-23
Matthew 5:38-48