Monday, September 26, 2011

on Peter, and Love

After a church-packed weekend, I decided to type out some of my thoughts on Fr. Larry's homily on Sunday. What stuck with me most related to the exemplarity for us of Peter's responses to Christ (in Luke 5:1-11).

First, that Peter's initial objection based on his 'rational standards' of knowledge (as an expert fisherman) is superseded by an obedience to Christ's request that he "go out into the deep and let down your nets"; Peter says: "Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net."

Peter's 'nevertheless' is a hinge-point of repentance, of a turning from the wisdom of the world (and its expertise, or trends, or even 'common-sense') to the "foolishness" of Christ, a folly which will be manifest most distinctively in the Cross as a sign of victory (followed by the empty tomb). And so part of our movement toward Christ is a movement from an over-reliance on "the slavery of our own reasoning" toward a quest into the "deep" of God's life.

The second example Peter provides was in his response to catching such a huge load of fish: "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!"

Fr. Larry spoke of how this reaction embodies in itself a helpful critique of the modern tendency within certain forms of Christianity to be 'fishers of men' by first trying to convince others of their own sin, and only afterward, and as a result, of their need for Christ. This it to go about it all backward! Rather, if we truly desire to 'catch' others as we are being caught (in the net of Christ, which draws up the teeming cosmos, into the boat of eternity), it is an awareness of and longing for the person of Christ which comes first, since it is this that truly reveals to us the hindrance of our sin, our own unreadiness and unwillingness to face a Love so strong it binds the worlds together and breathes through all things.

And - Lord have mercy! - we are called to offer Christ to the world in this way through the language of our own gestures, actions, words and life - to undergo micro-martyrdoms in each moment, bearing witness to the unseen One in what is seen.

Archbishop Anthony Bloom describes something similar with regard to prayer; that sometimes God's seeming absence in prayer is a gift from Him which may signify that more preparation - more humility, more compunction, contrition, self-awareness - is needed before we can even detect the alarmingly because unwaveringly intimate proximity of God to our very selves, his whisper in our hearts, His fathomless form in our dreams.

The presence of Christ is a consuming fire, and it burns off the dross and grime from our hearts; as Fr. Kaleeg said in his last homily, in the presence of Christ (and He has an infinite number of ways of becoming present to us, as many ways as there are moments in time), our hesitations and doubts melt like wax. May his grace prepare us for Himself.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Gaelan: I really appreciate this engagement with the homily on a regular basis. This is exactly the kind of process that we need to see happening regularly in the Church. It is not only encouraging to the priests, it is helpful to the people of God. May God bless your efforts!