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2013-03-10 message

posted Mar 10, 2013, 5:25 PM by St. John's Webmaster

I mentioned last week the tendency of misjudging ourselves, often overestimating what we can accomplish. The Gospel reading for this past Tuesday, Mark 14:10-42, shows us that not even the chief of the apostles was immune from this. As our Lord was going to His passion, St. Peter proudly affirmed that he would not be among those who betrayed Christ. As we well know, Christ foretold the betrayals and Peter denied Christ three times that night.

In our journey through the book of Hebrews, we found a passage from St. John Chrysostom that speaks in a broader context about the lesson learned by St. Peter. St. John said, in On the Epistle to the Hebrews, “One thing only is worthy of grief: sin; there is nothing else. Do not say, “Why am I not rich?” or “If I were rich, I would give to the poor.” You cannot know that you would not covet riches if you had any. For now indeed you say these things, but, if you were put to the test, you would be different. So also, when we are satisfied, we think that we are able to fast; but, when we have gone without food for a time, other thoughts come into us. Again, when we are away from strong drink, we think that we are able to master our appetite, but it is no longer so when we are caught by it.”

What both the experience of St. Peter and the words of St. John illustrate is the need for humility. We know that St. Peter learned from his experience. He wept bitterly at his denial and likely considered himself unworthy of his status as an apostle. It is not arbitrary that, as Peter had denied Christ three times, Christ asks Peter three times whether he loves Him. The directive to feed the sheep which followed each time of questioning assured the saint that his repentance had been seen and that he was and would continue to be an apostle.

I am reminded here of the prayer of the last elders of Optina. “O Lord, grant that I may meet all that this coming day brings to me with spiritual tranquility. Grant that I may fully surrender myself to Thy holy Will. At every hour of this day, direct and support me in all things. Whatsoever news may reach me in the course of the day, teach me to accept it with a calm soul and the firm conviction that all is subject to Thy holy Will. Direct my thoughts and feelings in all my words and actions. In all unexpected occurrences, do not let me forget that all is sent down from Thee. Grant that I may deal straightforwardly and wisely with every member of my family, neither embarrassing nor saddening anyone. O Lord, grant me the strength to endure the fatigue of the coming day and all the events that take place during it. Direct my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to be patient, to forgive, and to love. Amen.” Rather than relying on ourselves, the prayer teaches us to put our trust in the Lord, to ask for His guidance in every undertaking, for his help in everything that we encounter.

As we prepare for the season which reminds us more than any other that everything depends on God, let us make this prayer our own and may its message remain in our hearts.

With love in Christ,
+Fr. Peter