• Bicycle Helmet
• Simon and Garfunkel Box Set
What do you think all of these items have in common? They certainly sound like Family Feud answers for the category, “Things That Could Be Buried in Your Closet” or, perhaps, “Things You Might Need for a Mellow and Safe Backyard Adventure”. Unfortunately for me, another category would work: “Gifts Shannon Gave His Girlfriend On Their First Christmas Together”. I wish that were a joke. It isn’t. What’s worse is that Erin thought she might get an engagement ring that day. Instead, she got a few answers for yet another category, “Things You Would Definitely Re-gift”. Luckily for me, though, I figured things out by the following Easter and put a ring on it…I mean her. I mean, I asked Erin to marry me and she said yes. I’d like to tell you that I’ve gotten better at gift-giving since then but, sadly, I don’t think that’s true. It’s because I don’t pay attention enough. That’s something Erin told me. At least I think that’s what she said.
In the sixteen years that Erin and I have been together, we have not yet developed the ability to read each other’s minds. We have, however, learned to communicate better. We’ve learned that spending time together, paying attention to each other and trying to be clear about what we expect from one another, are important keys to remaining close. I find that these lessons learned through my relationship with Erin help me grow in Christ as well. Through prayer, the Word, the sacraments, and the Church, Christ clearly and regularly communicates His will to me. I don’t always listen, though, and I’m certainly not great on the follow through when I do manage to listen. I am in good company, though. Jesus’s friends suffered from the same weaknesses.
This coming Sunday at Mass, we will hear the Gospel accounting of Jesus walking on water and calling on Peter to do the same. At some point, in the midst of a terrible storm, Peter accepts Jesus’s challenge and begins walking on water. Soon enough, though, Peter begins to sink and begs Jesus to save him. Jesus does save Peter, but also challenges him, asking, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”. While Jesus certainly meant these words for Peter, he also means them for the rest of us, for me.
Through this question, Jesus reminds us what he really wants from us: Faithfulness.
Jesus invites us to give our whole being to Him and trust that He has created us in such a way that our lives will be full and have great meaning if we will just follow Him. Too often, we try and offer Jesus what we think he wants. These, of course, are the bicycle helmets, hammocks, and Simon and Garfunkel box sets of our faith lives. They are well-meaning gifts, but they are ultimately guesses, sometimes bad guesses. Christ wants from us what Erin wanted from me: A promise of eternal faithfulness. Spending time with Jesus through regular prayer and reception of the sacraments will help us understand and accept this truth.
What will faithfulness in Jesus look like in your life?