Dear Fathers, Friends in Christ,
He clearly was wrong. (Galatians 2:11)
Have you ever let someone down? Overpromised and underdelivered? Of course. We all have. Unfortunately, we often compound our mistake by beating ourselves up about it, convincing ourselves that we just don’t have what it takes to be faithful.
What we tend to forget is that we are not alone. We forget incidents like the one we find in today’s first reading. When Paul reported to Peter (Cephas) and the other leaders about his work in bringing the gospel to the Gentiles, Peter was all for it. Even when he was visiting the church in Antioch, which was composed of Jews and Gentiles, Peter put aside Jewish tradition and freely shared meals with all of them, regardless of their religious backgrounds. But when other people from Jerusalem arrived, he pulled back, apparently deciding not to cross this boundary in front of other Jews, who might take it the wrong way.
We don’t know exactly what Peter was thinking. Perhaps he had valid concerns about creating unnecessary conflict in the young Church. But it does seem clear that his actions caused offense and hurt among the believers in Antioch and led Paul to rebuke him publicly. Then we remember another time that Peter also assured Jesus that he would never turn his back on him, but then denied the Lord three times.
Both of these failures must have caused Peter great anguish and embarrassment. The important thing to recognize, though, is that this wasn’t the end of the story for Peter. Far from it. Peter made mistakes. He let people down. But he never stopped following the Lord and trying his best to live in Christ’s love. Because he kept himself open to God’s forgiveness and grace, the Church has been impacted throughout the ages.
So let’s go back to where we started. Have you ever let someone down or felt like you failed someone who needed you? How about this one: have you let God forgive you for these failures? Have you let him separate your sin from you as far as the east is from the west, as he has promised to do? Open yourself to God’s grace today; let him pick you up and dust you off. Never stop giving yourself to him.
“Father, give me the grace to receive your forgiveness.”
Psalm 117:1-2; Luke 11:1-4
Father Ed Bakker
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
Bendigo in the Central Goldfields , Victoria