Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Looking at Peter and John

During Lent, as Katie and I followed the daily readings in Paula Huston’s book Simplifying the Soul, I began practicing lectio divina in a frankly amateur fashion. I was more consistent about this practice, picked up on the fly, than about other Lenten plans.

Every morning, still today, I go over the mass readings, chewing them slowly, waiting for a morsel to strike me as particularly tasty, then chewing that until it becomes part of me. Being a Bull, I am fond of metaphors involving cud.

Today’s reading from Acts provided plenty of nutrition, that and the mass which followed. The story of Peter and John meeting the lame man at the temple gate called Beautiful was moving to me in a way that it might not have been if I had been trying to “understand” it. Scriptural analysis is not the point of lectio, as I understand lectio. 

For my daily readings at home, I have been using the EWTN link. Today at mass, I discovered that EWTN must use a different translation than that in the daily lectionary. So the verbal response of Peter to the lame man was turned around somewhat, but his core statement was unchanged, or what struck me as his core statement: “Look at us.”

Peter had “no silver and gold” for the lame man, according to EWTN, “but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” And of course the lame man walks.

Had I not been chewing the reading slowly, I’m sure I would have wondered at the miracle, “performed” by Peter with the command “walk.” But what struck me this morning, during my pre-mass moment, was the simple injunction: “Look at us.”

For that is actually how I became a Catholic, looking at Peter and John, and many other saints, not at Jesus Christ. I said something in my first year as a Catholic (2008–2009) that strikes me now as almost blasphemous: “I don’t get Jesus.” Unlike Evangelicals who claim that they have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, I wasn’t even sure I knew who He was.

But I got Peter, and I got John. The saints, ignored by the Protestant churches of my upbringing, were my convincer. Looking at them, I saw men and women who had lived the faith for two thousand years, and I thought, If it worked for them, how am I so smart that it won’t work for me?

When I “looked at them,” what did I see? I saw that they were looking at Jesus, as I try to do today.

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