I love Gospel stories with Peter in them! Peter is so very human and makes mistakes that show me that there is hope for even me! I mean, sometimes what Peter does is, for me, like looking in a mirror. How many times have I blurted out something without thinking? How many times have I come up with some crazy idea that sounds great inside my head, but not nearly as good when I’ve said it out loud. But our friend Peter obviously gets it all right in the end doesn’t he? And that’s what I think is the message for us today, getting it all right in the end.
Bur first, let’s have some fun with Peter!
The Transfiguration. We’ve all heard this story many times right? The spectacular scene of Jesus in dazzling white clothes. Peter, John and James standing there in awe at the top of a mountain watching Jesus converse with two men who turn out to be Moses and Elijah – two of the most influential and important people from the Old Testament. If I was there, I would have probably done something just like Peter did. “Hey Jesus, this is awesome! Let’s set up three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah so that everyone can come and see! Wait until everyone sees this!”
Seeing this through human eyes and getting excited as only a human like me and Peter can. But it is what happens next that got my attention. While Peter is still talking excitedly, “a cloud came and cast a shadow over them, and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.” I imagine the excitement and words are dying on his lips as he realizes something totally different is happening. “Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my chosen Son; listen to him.’” And when the cloud moved on, they were alone again with Jesus and the Gospel tells us “They fell silent.”
They fell silent…because they were starting to get it right in the end. This Gospel story is a reminder of what is important for us in life and for us in Lent. So how do we do that? What can we do now to get it right in the end?
In our lives as Catholics, we get to experience the sacraments that bring us God’s grace. Some of these are one timers like our Baptism or Confirmation. Others can be received throughout our lives and work to build our relationship with Jesus Christ and bless us with His grace so we do get it right in the end. And Lent, as well as any other time during the year, gives us an opportunity to share in His grace through a Sacrament. The voice from the cloud said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” Jesus has told us of a way out of our sin through the Sacrament of reconciliation. And during Lent we may realize that we have not been listening to Him and need to “fall silent” and repent.
So, I know that many may be reluctant or hesitant to go to confession. We find excuses to avoid it or get busy with other stuff and months or maybe even years go by. Or maybe Covid has simply gotten us out of the practice of going. But a great priest reminded me recently that reconciliation is a Sacrament, not some obligation that we are just supposed to do. He shed such positive light on what Sacraments mean to us by reminding me that Sacraments give us God’s grace and peace, and builds our relationship with Him. If someone offered us a big dose of God’s grace, would we take it? Yes, of course we would! If someone offered us a way to offload guilt, regret or baggage and in return we get a big dose of God’s grace, we would take that right?! Well that’s what the Sacrament of confession offers us, an opportunity to be transfigured.
Think about it, in life when we apologize to someone for what we may have said or done, that person sees us in a new light and a bond forms. Likewise with Jesus Christ, when we apologize for something we have said or done, we feel better, it’s off our chest and we can move on anew with our Savior at our side. And each time we go to confession, we build up our ability to resist sin in the future. And finally, confession is an opportunity for God to speak to us through the priest. That’s getting it right in the end.
So back to our friend Peter. As I mentioned, in the scripture stories, I see myself in the foibles Peter sometimes finds himself in. But I love that Peter always got it right in the end. He was the first disciple to say unequivocally that Jesus was the Son of God. Later in the Gospel, after denying him three times, Jesus gave Peter the chance to reconcile with him post resurrection where Peter three times says, “You know I love you Lord.”
He reconciled with His Lord and we can reconcile with that very same Lord. Let’s make it a point during Lent to do just that. To get it right in the end.