Like Peter in today’s Gospel, we may want to say to Jesus, “Leave me Lord, for I am a sinful man.” But Jesus won’t leave us. Perhaps that’s the hardest thing but also the most amazing grace - to realize humbly, even joyfully, our inadequacy. We are called to imitate the wounded Christ and allow him to reform our hearts, so that they conform to his broken heart. This is the grace of true blessedness and joy - a way to imitate him, who is all mercy, all peace, all mourning turned to joy, imitate him in whom we are meant to become more and more like God. We are invited to take on the mind of Christ in our embrace of our own poverty and neediness and inadequacy. The saints would remind us, “Don’t be afraid. It’s not about you. It’s about him; let him transform you.”
This tender love and relentless rescue of Jesus make our foolish failures almost worth it. Almost. With Peter and all the saints, we are meant to be icons of this rescue, our very selves, revelations of what Christ’s ongoing merciful rescue can accomplish, if we give him the least bit if access to our broken hearts. We welcome him with our need for him. And as monks this means constant awareness of our foolishness; constantly, joyfully remembering that we are sinners outlandishly loved by God. And so our life of incessant prayer requires incessant awareness of our poverty.
Jesus invites us to step into that poverty and helplessness we need no longer fear and flee or deny - because we will find him and our brothers and sisters down there. Jesus calls us to relationship - with him and with one another. We are invited to travel with him on the challenging road of humility, vulnerability and doing the opposite of what our first anger-fueled reaction might be. For when I finally recognize how poor and mercy-hungry I am, maybe, just maybe I begin to notice that I am not alone, that others need mercy just as I do; and hopefully my heart gets broken open.
In the kingdom proclaimed by Jesus, a revolution is happening, with vulnerability at the center. Vulnerability is the key to true holiness and joy. For when I am vulnerable, I realize that I desperately need God; I realize that I desperately need others. I come to understand that I am imperfect, inadequate and on the way along with my brothers and sisters, and so I am connected. (see Brené Brown) It is this loving connectivity that is true holiness.
Photograph by Brother Brian. Meditation by one of the monks.