FROM THE PASTOR’S DESK
Eleven years ago, my brother and sister-in-law bought a vacant house. It was owned by the bank and needed a lot of work. After a year of renovating, it was finally done. My brother and his wife were so proud of all that had been done. As they were giving my parents the grand tour, they stopped and showed off the master bath. It was spa-like, soaking tub, large shower, great lighting, and so on. When my sister-in-law asked my mom what she thought of the bathroom, my mom simply asked, where is the toilet tissue holder? My mom did not win mother-inlaw of the year for that question!!!
We have all had an experience where the wind was knocked out of our pride, where a comment by someone or an experience reminds us that we are not as smart, not as popular, not as successful as we thought we were. It happens to Peter in today’s Gospel. You might remember that last week Jesus assigned Peter the role of the rock, the foundation of the Church. This week, buoyed up by that honor, Peter decides that he is going to instruct Jesus to avoid the cross. It is a profound mistake, a serious misreading of God’s plan. Jesus sets Peter straight. He says that he is an obstacle to the Kingdom of God. He calls Peter “Satan.”
Last week Peter was the rock foundation on which the church was built. This week Peter is an obstacle to God’s plan. Last week Peter was called blessed. This week Peter is called Satan. The truth is, Peter is both—both foundation and obstacle, both blessed and seriously flawed.
Peter is both. So are we. We are all a mixture of gifts and deficiencies, talents and liabilities, blessings, and flaws. And the sooner we accept this truth about ourselves, the sooner we can get on with living. The truth is that we often delude ourselves into imagining that God is looking for perfect disciples. God is not looking for perfect people. God is looking for real people. Real people often make mistakes and frequently fall short. This is what happened to Peter, and yet the good news is that despite his shortcomings and failures, Peter remained a disciple and ultimately served the Church. Peter continued to serve, and so should we.
To put this in another way: none of our failings or shortcomings can be an excuse for us not to follow Christ. Imperfect as we are, we are still called to be disciples. We are not perfect spouses. We argue; we hurt; sometimes we do not listen. But none of these shortcomings is an excuse to stop honoring the vows we exchanged on our wedding day. We are not perfect parents. We are impatient, demanding, and sometimes selfish. But none of these flaws is an excuse by which we can avoid guiding and caring for the lives of our children which have been entrusted to us. We are not perfect friends. We can be judgmental, jealous, and inflexible. But none of these flaws is an excuse to stop us from trying to keep the relationships that God has given us alive.
God has no illusions. God knows who we are and all our failings. Yet, God still calls us to love, to forgive, and to grow. If Peter, whom Jesus called Satan, could go on to be the foundation of the Church, then, even with all our failings, we can still be the disciples Christ calls us to be.
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