“Peter Do You Love Me.”

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One day at Mass, I had an occasion to correct my son.  Before I said a word, I could see the remorse on his face, and was moved from disgruntled to compassion.  I drew him into an embrace.  I held him close to me, and told him that I loved him, and he needed to correct his behavior.  He sheepishly asked me what he had done.  I assured him that he could figure that part out.  I felt good about it. I wasn’t angry, I didn’t feel weighed down about it. It felt positive, constructive and effective. It felt like he was left with his dignity and autonomy. It made me think of Confession, and of St. Peter.  

When I go to confession, it too is in loving embrace. I take inventory, and come to God with my short comings.  I admit things about myself that I may be able to hide from the world, but God already knows.   When I leave confession, I feel happy, reinstated in grace, forgiven and not just with an empty slate, but a clean one without residue. I am told you are not only forgiven, but loved and  not starting over,  but starting anew, like Peter.

Jesus knew Peter’s remorse for denying Him.  Our Lord’s encounter with him, on the shore, after the resurrection, was all of this. He knew Peter’s heart.  His words were love, forgiveness and empowerment.  “Do you love Me?” are words of healing.  When Peter experienced his own answer, what perspective must have flooded Him. Jesus knew Peter loved him, hence it must have been Peter’s vision, that was muddled. Jesus provided clarity.  I believe “Feed My sheep” were words of total forgiveness, but not only that, they were a reinstatement. To Peter’s ears, our beautiful Jesus said to him again. “Peter you are rock, and upon this rock I will build My Church.”  It makes me think of my favorite line from from “Dr Who”, “Do you think that I care for you so little that betraying me, would make a difference?”.  Jesus said to him this doesn’t change that I’m entrusting you with what is Mine, what is precious.  Peter, you are still “rock” to Me.  Just like Peter, when I’m leaving the confessional, I don’t only feel forgiven, but restored to who God calls me to be.

I will try to respond to my son more like this.  That’s not to say a mother’s look and tone of voice aren’t effective tools, but my hope is to correct with a gentle spirit,  I want my son to feel love, forgiveness and restoration.  I want my son to know that his mistakes don’t change who he is to me.  I want him to experience from me the forgiveness I get in Confession.

On This Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

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 I heard about a woman, who’s child was tragically killed at the hands of another person.  She was burying the anger she felt. After she admitted the anger, she wasn’t tormented by it anymore.  I too have had these conflicting thoughts. One of my children was born with a health issue, a cross for their lifetime.  I can remember this conflict inside. I loved my child with everything I had, but I mourned the loss of health.  I was getting confused by what I knew to be true, my love for my child, and what satan wanted me to believe, that I couldn’t really love completely, if I mourned a lack of health. I felt so guilty about that, until I took it to a priest. He helped me see that I didn’t love my child less, and it was ok, to feel disappointed about what this meant for my baby’s future.

I think that evil likes to creep it’s way into some very beautiful moments, the birth of a baby, forgiveness for an assailant.  I think mourning and anger appropriate feelings in these situations, but I also believe that satan wants us not to see God’s mercy. Unfortunate events and tragedies will occur in our lives, but God will always bring us His merciful love.  I was empowered by acknowledging what I felt, because satan couldn’t use it anymore to make me feel ashamed, and God could love me in the truth.  Our minds and wills can get us to the right answer, and satan will always try to muddle that clarity.  Jesus’ heart finds us in the murky waters of our lives, when we can’t quite see our way.  When we can’t figure it all out, because evil is trying to flood us with confusion and point out our pain, we need to seek the Heart of Jesus, the love of God.  After all God became man to show us the way, because we were confused, and He, is Merciful Love.