Perfection + Imperfection
Dear Brother and Sisters in Christ,
Last weekend we heard how Jesus said that he would build His Church on the “rock” of St. Peter. Jesus said He would give Peter the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. He delegated to Peter the power to bind and loose.
But in today’s Gospel passage, which recounts what immediately follows the events from last weekend’s, Jesus tells Peter to “get behind” Him, and he calls him “Satan.” Jesus tells Peter that he is thinking “not as God does, but as human beings do.” What is going on here?
The mystery of Jesus Christ is that He is God in human flesh. In other words, the Divine Word of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, through whom all things were made, became flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was born in Bethlehem and grew up in Nazareth and lived with Mary and her husband Joseph. He was given the name, Jesus. The invisible God became visible in Jesus. The eternal entered the temporal. The Creator entered a creature. In Jesus, heaven and earth meet.
We call it a mystery because it is hard for us to wrap our heads around. How could the all-powerful God lower Himself to become a helpless child needing to be fed and changed by his mother? It is the mystery of God working through the ordinary things of life. We call this mystery the Incarnation and we see it reflected in how Jesus chooses to build the Church that He establishes.
The Church mirrors the mystery of the Incarnation, the coming together of the perfection and holiness of God with the imperfection and brokenness of humanity. Even the Church’s first leader, who we anachronistically call the first Pope, St. Peter, was a weak man. He doubted, he feared, he lied, and he denied the Lord. Jesus Himself had to rebuke Peter for his failure to see things through the lens of Divine Providence.
So, don’t be surprised when you see sin or weakness in the Church. It isn’t anything new. Realize also, that God desires to accomplish divine and miraculous things through you, despite your flaws, weaknesses and sins. If He did it with Peter, He can do it with you and me.
Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life,