Last Sunday, I attended Mass at Saint Peter's in Montgomery, Alabama. The reason I went to Saint Peter's was to help my friend Michael (who is a FOCUS Missionary at Georgia Southern University) with his Parish Talk, and although I had not previously read the readings, I thought it providential as soon as I heard the Gospel.
Peter is arguably Jesus' most trusted disciple. Jesus gives him the keys to the Kingdom when He says "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18). From this verse, the Catholic Church was founded by Christ, and Christianity began. (This is after Jesus asks the disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" and Peter responds, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.")
It gives me great hope to see how much Jesus loves Peter, and how faithful our Lord is to him, even after he fails. Matthew 16, where Jesus praises Peter, makes it easy to forget how many times Jesus rebukes Peter in previous chapters. Last Sunday, the Gospel was taken from Matthew 14, where Jesus walks (ON WATER!) to the disciples. Jesus calls to Peter to come to Him, and Peter gets out of the boat and he too, begins to walk on water. Then Peter sees how strong the wind is (he takes his eyes off of the Lord), and he begins to sink, only to have Jesus save him and rebuke his lack of faith. (See the picture at the top of my blog.)
As I said in my first blog post, Peter's accomplishment (trusting Jesus enough to get out of the boat) is followed by a sin of pride (becoming preoccupied with other things and not focusing on the Lord). Jesus believes in Peter, even when Peter does not believe that Jesus is enough for him!!! Isn't that incredibly good news?! The God of all creation, who came down from Heaven to die on a cross because of MY failures, believes in me, even when I turn my back on Him.
Sometimes, all of our senses fail us. We let our emotions take control and they deceive our intellect into thinking that a situation is something that it actually isn't. We want proof that God is working in our lives, and we neglect to look beyond the surface. It is these times when Christ's power is made perfect. When we are weak, He is strong.
My sweet friend CeeCee (FOCUS Missionary at Vanderbilt University) quoted Saint John Chrysostome in her blog post here. Check it out!
Also at Mass, one of the hymns sung was "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence." This hymn has been one of my favorites for quite some time, and my favorite verse is the fourth, which boldly proclaims:
At His feet the six-winged seraph,
cherubim, with sleepless eye,
veil their faces to the presence,
as with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia, Lord Most High!
It blows my mind to think of the Angels (who are in Heaven, at the feet of Jesus, and have been made perfect) as they veil their faces to the holy presence of the Lord. I think that God is SO merciful that He presents Himself to us (veiled) in the form of bread and wine, because He knows how prideful we are. If His presence were not veiled, how many of us would dare to look at Him face to face? My guess is that many people would think that they could withstand the fullness of the Glory of God, and would surely die because of His incomprehensible and eternal love in the face of our own sinfulness.
This reminds me of the fourth verse of Pange Lingua. (Pange Lingua was written by Saint Thomas Aquinas in the 13th Century, and contains the commonly known "Tantum Ergo" as it's last two verses (where my blog's title, Sensuum Defectui, came from).
The Latin is beautiful:
During the Mass, our feeble senses fail to recognize the change from bread into the very body of the Savior. God knows that we are weak, and everyday when I am able to receive the Blessed Sacrament, I thank Him for allowing me the pleasure, even though I will never fully appreciate His Sacrifice (on this side of Heaven!) I, like Saint Peter, often fail to recognize the Lord's goodness, but I am constantly humbled by His faithfulness and His patience with me!
Saint Peter, pray for us!