At work, much is required of me. Earlier this year, I traveled out of the country weekly for a few months. This is hard on the body and, to the same extent, on the mind as time is spent on travel, airports, cars, hotels, and dealing charitably with people. During that time, I had two close family members pass on, and I had been so busy that it felt like I had not had a chance to mourn properly. Then it was Palm Sunday; that day's readings always bring to mind the contradiction of worldly life, that we can go from great elation and well-being to great suffering and sadness... And how are we meant to embrace both, as Jesus did.
Would I be able to accept my death without resentment? Would I die asking for my tormentors to be forgiven as Jesus did? Or would I be like Peter and run, denying that which is the source of my love, faith, and hope? Also, like Peter, even if I run, would I be able to come back and be steeled by the grace of forgiveness? There are so many of us that are more like the Iscariot. We grow disillusioned and give up on God, leave His sight, and try to get what we think is ours, feeling that we have a right to that which is really a gift.
I have always identified with Peter, a simple man, a blue-collar person, a simple fisherman who would just as easily be confused as enlightened. One who would look at his own capabilities and say I can follow, I can lead. Yet, one who could also see weakness as well as strength. I am weak, just the same as Peter. I can be strong, just like Peter. But Peter denied Christ three times... Would I do that as well? Peter repented from this and was restored, yet again, by our Lord when he asked Peter three times whether he loved Him. Later, during Pentecost, Peter was fortified by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This strength we have in us through the graces of baptism. We have not our strength but God's strength in us.
The main thing about the story of Peter is that by his denying, he broke faith with Jesus. That is why Jesus asked him three times to affirm his love so that He could heal his heart and his mind. And though the love Peter professed was not at the level that Jesus desired of him, he was able to open his heart again to Christ and become the Apostle he was called to be. In Pentecost, and by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, he was able to accept the gift of courage, the courage of Christ. This is the same with us today. There is a reason God left us His Holy Spirit.
At Pentecost, Peter and the disciples were indwelled by the Holy Spirit. By baptism, we are indwelled with the same Spirit. In Confirmation, our courage is activated. With courage, we are able to accept the mission of love and mercy, just as Peter did. As we continue living in this world, we will be tasked with many things. We will encounter many challenges, many times where we are called directly to witness to our faith in Christ, to our love of Christ, and to our love of neighbor. And we will know that it is difficult, and we will know that this is hard to do. Yet we must remember the story of Peter.
We must remember that Christ will look upon us and ask us whether we love Him. Whether we love Him a second time, whether we love Him a third time... What will we do? Jesus lived and died for us. In the Eucharist, He is still awaiting us, calling us to acknowledge Him, asking us if we love Him. Will we choose to witness to His love for us? Let us pray for the activation our conviction and courage, for the perseverance in hope and faith, especially at the last moment before death, that we may endure and abide in Him, who died for us. May we be who He calls us to be.
Let us pray: Lord, help us to be strong and courageous. May we grow to love You even in our fears, even in our lowest moments. That You may be glorified by everything You call us to do, in Your name. Amen.