James Tissot (1836-1902) The Calling of Saint Peter and Saint Andrew gouache over graphite on gray wove paper, between 1886 and 1894 Brooklyn Museum
Jesus said to his disciples, “But who do you say that I am?” Matthew 16:15
Peter has spent long hours and many months with Jesus. He has come to know the compassion of God manifested in every word and touch of Jesus.
This is the key to the Kingdom of God: knowing God’s love in my heart and letting it overflow to all people with words and actions that reveal kindness, gentleness, respect, encouragement, justice, and healing.
T’oros Roslin (ca.1210-1270) Jesus Walks on the Sea, 1262
During the fourth watch of the night, [Jesus] came toward [the disciples] walking on the sea. Matthew 14:25
I sense an eagerness in Jesus. I sense that he wants very much to be with his friends and so he takes the quickest way to meet them: by walking on the sea.
How humbling to know the Lord is eager to be with us. How humbling for me to realize how often I am afraid to be in the Lord’s presence, how often I am afraid of the Lord’s powerful and unceasing love for me.
Today I will walk on the sea of love and trust as I consciously seek the presence of God. If I falter, I will ask the Lord to save me from my fear of loving and being loved.
Dilip V Nerlikar The fisherman active in Vengurla, Maharshtra, India, 2017
And Jesus replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.” Matthew 13:52
Every day I cast a net of discernment. It captures thought patterns, behaviors, and habits that prevent me from caring for those in need, forgiving those who have hurt me, and treating all people with respect and dignity. I sort through old fears, resentments, and wounds. I ask the Lord to remove all the hindrances to love and to strengthen everything in me that is generous, kind, and compassionate.
And Jesus spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow.” Matthew 13:3
The soil of my heart varies day to day, sometimes moment to moment. Sometimes I don’t understand the Word of God and don’t take the time to study and meditate on it. Sometimes pain and fear of others’ disapproval prevent me from believing in and speaking the Word of God’s presence and love and forgiveness. Sometimes financial hardship and job worries and the heartbreak of racist acts and abuse and human trafficking consume my thoughts and I have no energy to trust that God is in charge and has a vision of love and peace for the world.
And sometimes my heart is soft and open and ready to receive the Good News of God’s compassion, forgiveness, and mercy. Then I am able to love my neighbor and do good to those who hurt me. Then I bear the rich fruit of peace and nonviolence. Then I treat all human persons with respect and kindness.
“Do not forget the LORD, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery; who guided you through the vast and terrible desert with its saraph serpents and scorpions, its parched and waterless ground; who brought forth water for you from the flinty rock and fed you in the desert with manna, a food unknown to your fathers.” Deuteronomy 8:14b-16a
It is God who leads me through and out of the dark, arid, despairing times. The kindness of people who listen to me, encourage me, and feed me with their love and compassion are God-reminders of Who is in charge.