Jesus is not the only Gospel character who was transformed by the resurrection. Today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles shows a Peter who is quite different from the fisherman Jesus called in Galilee. He speaks to the crowd with such eloquence, conviction and purpose. It’s difficult to believe that he is the same man who tentatively lingered around the Christ until he had no other choice but to abandon his livelihood after his nets tore due to Jesus “miracle” that we read about before lent started.
Most of us are like the old Peter. We dance around the doors of church and pay lip service to the spiritual life, but for the most part our lives are consumed by material concerns. And why wouldn’t they be? We are, after all, material beings. We have to eat, don’t we? Provide for our families? Ensure some basic security for ourselves? Isn’t that what God wants of us: to become mature, responsible individuals who can then “give back” through the families we raise and the charitable donations we make?
If this is what Christianity has been reduced to, no wonder it is faltering.
Frankly, we don’t really want to be transformed like Peter was. What we want is to be comfortable. We want spirituality to be “fix it and forget it.” Like Peter at the Transfiguration, we want to set up tents for Elijah and Moses and Jesus instead of carrying their truth with us back into the valleys of our lives. We want to jump out of the boat, walk on water, and be God. We certainly don’t want talk of crosses and death on the road to Jerusalem. We want to supersize our faith and get not just our feet but our whole bodies washed by the Savior. We protest any suggestion that our modern lifestyle runs contrary to the Gospel, and deny not only Christ in our actions but deny the cockcrow too.
Of all the characters in the Gospel, Peter is the one with whom I most identify. Stubborn, willful, bold, a bull in a china shop who frequently puts cart before horse because he lacks spiritual understanding. Yet Jesus calls him “rock” and designates him as the foundation of an institution that has weathered more that 2000 years. Not because of what Peter was, but because of who Peter could be and would be after the power of the resurrection transformed him.
The challenge for me this Easter season is to allow myself to be transformed like Peter. Not just changed temporarily, but completely transformed. I can feel it happening through many of my day to day interactions and struggles. My Peter-like ways are being brought to my attention, and it is quite humbling. But today’s readings give me hope that if Jesus could turn a little nobody from Galilee into the Father of the Church, He can transform me too. I may not like the process. But it is the destination of the Christian spiritual path. Either I’m walking the path, or I’m not.