March 10, 2018

Saturday after the Third Sunday in Lent

And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.” But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know this man you are talking about.” At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. Mark 14: 69-72

 

I have grown to admire and love Peter more and more. As a child, Peter was presented to me as the most Holy and Perfect of the Saints, holding the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven and head of the Church on Earth. He was so perfect and saintly that he seemed aloof and out of reach. However, when I read the Gospels and Acts on my own, I came to see Peter as a person full of flaws. He was impulsive, rough, outspoken, crass and surly. He failed Jesus many times. Even in Jesus’ darkest hour, Peter denied knowing Jesus. I came to see Peter through a looking glass that reflected the person I was – flawed, insensitive, impulsive, and sinful. As a result, I found hope in Peter. If Jesus was willing to empower Peter and give Peter authority, then perhaps, Jesus would empower me to live out my vocation in order to build the kingdom of God here on earth in spite of my flaws, sins, and shortcomings. I grew to love Peter not because he was superhuman but because he was truly human, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, often putting his foot in his mouth, and even prone to violence as when he cut off Malchus’ ear. Peter did protest that he didn’t know Jesus and through his remorse and tears came to face the reality of his own ugliness. As a result, he realized that Jesus loved him for who he was. By coming to know his true and authentic self, Peter realizes that he was finally seeing what Jesus Christ saw and the reality that Christ loved him anyway. In the end, Peter came to love himself and love God and was willing to sacrifice everything for Christ, even his own life. May we have such hope.

 

The Rev. Tim Gavin
The Episcopal Academy

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February 25, 2018

The Second Sunday in Lent

Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He spoke this word openly. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But when He had turned around and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter, saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Mark 8:31-38

 

Jesus is a realist. He knows the ways of the world, and he knows the ways of God. He refuses to deny either reality.

Peter is also mindful of both – somewhat. As do many of us – and maybe all of us at times in our own lives – Peter wishes to ignore the inevitable collision between the two. In this exchange with the Master, he opts for the comfort of encouragement over agreement with Jesus’ conclusion of the inevitable. In his immediate and definite response, Jesus compares Peter to Satan.

Who is Satan? We meet him in the first chapter of this Gospel. Satan is the tempter of Jesus. Satan’s chief goal is temptation … to forsake the truth of God’s reign in order to achieve earthly status and comfort.

In this brief encounter, we witness the intensity of Jesus’ harsh retort to Peter, a harshness perhaps born of the power of temptation upon Jesus to claim the comfort of his own immediate human worldly wishes.

We are thus enabled by the Son of God to come to ourselves as we really are at this moment. Through God’s loving acceptance and parental-like strength, we are then invited to confront the challenges of our own lives with an outstretched hand to God’s hand, leading each of us home, again and again.

The power of this faith increases in us as we come to our God continually with our faith, hope and love. This life is why we strive especially in this season to keep a holy Lent.

 


O God, whose glory is always to have mercy, bring us again and again to embrace and ever hold fast the unchangeable truth of your Word, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

The Rev. Bill Wood
Saint David’s Church, Radnor