Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Some ironic beauty in this morning's Psalms

January 18th is the church's commemoration of the Apostle Peter.

The morning Psalms, which just happened to come up at Tuesday Morning Prayer and were not specific to the Saint's day, included Psalm 26,

Give judgment for me, O LORD, for I have lived with integrity; I have trusted in the Lord and have not faltered.

Test me, O LORD, and try me; examine my heart and my mind.

For your love is before my eyes; I have walked faithfully with you.

Peter, an observant Jew who continued to observe traditional hours of prayer and their associated Scriptures, would have heard and even recited these words as he journeyed to proclaim Jesus - the same Jesus to whom he had been unforgettably unfaithful. Peter had indeed "faltered" and run away when bystanders identified him as a follower of Jesus the prisoner. His "heart and mind" failed the test, and he emphatically denied knowing Jesus.

Did these Psalms sear his soul as he heard them again and again over the years?

If so, other sacred words surely provided reassurance and comfort. This morning also offered Psalm 28, which ends

Save your people and bless your inheritance; shepherd them and carry them for ever.

This evokes the day that Jesus, risen from the dead, walked with Peter and restored him. Jesus made Peter a "shepherd," telling him to "Feed my sheep."

The church, whether built on the rock of Peter the Apostle (Catholic view) or the faith with which he proclaimed Jesus in a good moment (Protestant view), is full of faltering, failing and sometimes faithless people. Yet they have hope in the same Lord who saved, blessed, shepherded and carried Peter, and who still comes to do his work through people like him.

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