Okay, be honest, how many people read the title and said “Trust us, fall on!” You know you’re a low ropes graduate if… Well anyway, trust is awesome, isn’t it? Trust is pretty easy to talk about but a little more difficult to practice. Do we trust our parents when they give us advice, or do we call them old fashioned? Do we trust our friends, or do we hide our true selves from them to avoid being vulnerable? Do we trust God in His love and providence, or do we try to take everything upon ourselves?
My reflection today is on the trust of two men who knew Jesus very personally, Peter and Judas. We all know the story. Peter told Jesus that he would be loyal, even unto death. That was a very brave and bold promise to make. However, when Jesus was taken into custody, Peter was seized with fear. Several people pointed him out and accused him of being one of Jesus’ followers. Peter denied it. “I do not know that man.” I pray that upon reading that line, my heart could feel a little bit of what Jesus’ heart felt when he heard Peter say that. I’m forced to recall times in my own life where I shouted that line, not so much by my words but by my actions. There have been times in my life when, in the face of trial and persecution, I too have fallen and denied Christ. Christ went to the cross for me. What shame or pain was being thrusted at me that was so great that I couldn’t stand firm in my time of trial?
Although his sin was different, Judas is no more guilty than Peter. They both sinned against the Lord. Judas turned against Jesus and handed Him over. So why did Peter become the first pope and Judas end up hanging himself? If that’s all we know about the story, it doesn’t make much sense. What is being revealed to us here is the power of having confidence in the Lord’s mercy. Judas did not believe in that mercy. He ran away in shame, refusing to humbly approach Jesus and ask forgiveness. I find it strange that a man who walked with Jesus, ate with Jesus, and heard His teachings could have doubted His mercy that much. On the other hand, Peter recognized his sinfulness and knew it was far too much for he himself to bare. However, he knew it was not too much for Christ. Even our first pope denied Christ at one point, but believed so much in His mercy that God rewarded him. In the book “I Believe in Love”, St. Therese’s teachings call us into abondonment to mercy. We place far too much pressure on ourselves. As St. Therese points out, the Lord wants our faith. Jesus did not say to His disciples, “Oh, ye who can’t catch a fish to save his life”, or “Oh, ye who can’t speak very eloquently!” Rather, when Peter started to doubt, take his eyes off of the Lord, and sink, Jesus’ words to him were “Oh, ye of little faith.” We are called to be saints. All that is required is that we want to be saints with everything we have, that we give our all to Christ, that we fully believe in His mercy, and that in those times of desolation, when we are tempted to look in other directions for help, and we begin to sink, we keep our eyes fixed on Christ.
St. Therese of Lisieux, pray for us!