Can I be faithful? At times we all tend to wonder. When we experience our failures and weaknesses or when others aren’t what we had hoped they would be, I think many of us in the Legion and consecrated life go back to the more fundamental questions, to the question at the root of the vocation.
Will I be able to stay faithful to my consecration and to my priesthood no matter what? Others have fallen. I have fallen. Who am I to stay standing? Who am I to get back on my feet?
Last September I made my perpetual vows, and there was one Gospel passage in particular that I prayed with. I’d like to share this reflection with you, keeping in mind that this is not exegesis, but a reflection about the vocation to consecrated life—using the Gospel to shed light on the vocation.
It’s the passage when Peter walks on the water (Matthew 14:22-33). At first, the disciples are in the boat, rowing against the wind and waves. They see Christ, and Peter feels inside himself this call to step out of the boat and go towards Christ, this call similar to consecrated or priestly life. So he asks for and receives Christ’s confirmation of the call: “If it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come.”
With a super-human act of faith Peter begins a super-human and super-natural journey towards Christ over the waters. Our vocation is supernatural in that very sense: above human nature and impossible if Christ had not called us.
So Peter starts walking, and he does fine until he takes his eyes off Christ. The key to our religious vocation is in looking at Christ. Everything else: the waves, the wind, the boat etc., must be seen only insofar as reflected through Christ’s eyes. Peter takes his eyes off Christ, gets distracted with the difficulties, and begins to sink.
In consecrated life the only thing we must persevere in is… trust. Sure, we’ll have our falls, our “sinking moments”, but we need to keep turning back to Christ. Peter did. He did it again after denying Our Lord and yet again as he was fleeing Rome and Jesus appeared to him asking, “Quo vadis?” Peter called out to Christ as he sunk. That’s what makes Peter great; that’s what makes him a saint.
So the fundamental question is not, “Can I be faithful?”
Will I have the strength? No. Will I have the courage to not turn back? No. Will I be able to live every moment of my life in perfect surrender to the Father’s will? No. I can’t do any of these things. The fundamental question lies elsewhere. Are you my life, Lord? Will I gaze only at you and walk on water through the power of your grace?
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