Blog # 472 Come !
Peter died more than nineteen hundred years ago. Elijah lived in the ninth century before Jesus was born. Both of them lived and died far away from here and a very long time ago. We are separated from Peter and Elijah by vast distances of space and a very long time. Is there anything special that unites us with them?
This is an important question because if we cannot recognize anything special in their lives and in ours that is similar and related, their stories and writings would not have a great deal of influence in our imitation of them in our lives.
One basic key element in the lives of Elijah, Peter and ourselves is the fact the same God Who was present to them is present to us today. Whatever was happening to them in relationship to God could happen to us. We cannot live nine centuries before Jesus was born.. We cannot die in the first century after He was born. But the same God Who called Elijah to be the great prophet that he was is the God Who called each of us to be the child of this or that particular mother and father, from the very moment we were conceived. And the same God Who promised and gave to Peter the courage love and grace he needed to lay down his life in the name of Jesus, is the God Who promises and offers us the courage love and grace it will take to discover and achieve the unique goal He has set for each of us.
With our relationship to the same God to Whom Peter and Elijah were related in mind, we approach their writings and stories given us in the Scriptures with more insights and better questions.
We listen for God to speak to us as God spoke to them. We preach with Elijah. We go fishing with Peter. But primarily to discover what God said to them and through them so we might hear that same God speaking to us.
We marvel at the fact we see the same moon shining as Peter and Elijah saw. No doubt they knew the tribute the Psalmist paid to the moon in exalting it as "a faithful witness in the sky".(Ps 89: 38). We think of how this might have inspired their own faithful witness and hope it would do the same for us. We find ourselves closely related to Peter and Elijah in our freedom our faith and our deep desire to discover and follow God's plan for us.
My mind was drawn to the offertory prayer at Mass. "Blessed are You, Lord, God of all creation..."God of the large and the small, of mountains and valleys, of the great miracles like healings that occur only now and then, but also of the ordinary miracles that occur before our eyes each day, a geranium plant, a rose, the gift of sight, prayer, forgiveness, grass growing fresh after a rain, raisins, a tomato, a smile. What miracles!. "Blessed are You, Lord, God of all creation".
I was surprised today while reflecting on the story of Peter accepting the invitation to walk on the water with Jesus. (Mat. 14: 22-33). His first response taught me about prayer. It seems to me many people try to set an agenda for God in their prayers, and that agenda set for God seems to be for God to help us in our agenda. "Help me get as raise." "Please find us a nice house." "Please heal this pain of mine."
These prayers are good. but I see a different kind of prayer illustrated for me in Peter today. Remember he and the other Apostles were out on the Lake in a storm. It was three o'clock in
the morning. They were all awake and worried. Jesus approached, walking on the water. It was a perfect setting for a prayer for help. "Please, Lord, keep us safe." "Please, Lord, calm the storm". I can easily imagine some of those on board with Peter prayed such a prayer. But not Peter. First he wants to make sure he was not deceiving himself by thinking it was Jesus when it might have been just an illusion. So he begins his prayer by checking it out with Jesus: "Lord, if it is really you..."
Then he says what he wants: "Tell me to come to you, across the water". Peter loved Jesus deeply. And he knew Jesus loved him too. This is part of the story, and his words might be interpreted something like this: Jesus, I love you and want to be close to you, even though it takes a miracle like walking on the water as you are doing. For Peter it was a prayer to be more like Jesus. And Jesus said: "Come. Be like me! Forgive! Pray! Love unto death! Trust! Believe! Work miracles in my name! I will be with you."
For us. today, living under the strong influences of our current secular culture, the gift of faith in the Church, faith in the Mass and Holy Communion, and faith in the reality of sanctifying grace is a miracle just as walking on water would be. Whenever and wherever faith is required of us it is 3 AM in our life, we are on the Sea of Galilee, and Jesus says: "Come ! "