His Wounded, Miraculous Heart

He’d always been the kind of guy who’d done the right thing.  His dad had seen to that.  He’d been raised in a strict home, and a religious one.  But instead of finding his parent’s morality and church-going ways restrictive or irritating, he flourished in them.  He and his brother Andrew were both good kids, the kind of sons parents prayed for.  He grew into a large man, with a heart to match his frame.  Quiet and unassuming most of the time, he was a man of few words, the kind of guy who let his deeds speak for themselves.  Both he and Andrew had joined their dad in the family seafood business.  It was hard work but it let them all be together, working shoulder to shoulder each day earning an honest living.  Before long, he’d earned and saved enough to buy his own boat.  And with that financial security in hand, he felt able to marry his childhood sweetheart and begin a family of his own.  He and Andrew remained close though and together with another childhood friend, Phillip, they and their families spent lots of time together in their small hometown.  They often talked about their faith in God, which was important to all three men.  But the church of their childhood wasn’t always completely fulfilling to them anymore.  Something was missing.  Andrew especially was a seeker.  He often sought out others’ opinions on religious matters.  He’d found a new preacher he wanted his brother to hear, and one afternoon they both went to listen to him speak.  This preacher, John, was an amazing man, full of love for God and so unlike what they were used to hearing in church.  It was exciting for them.  But it was the preacher’s cousin who would change both their lives forever.
When John’s cousin, Jesus first met Andrew’s brother, Simon, he told him his name would be Peter (John 35:42). The big fisherman from Capernaum was being called by God to become a fisher of men.  And on this rock, this Peter, Christ promised to build His Church (Matthew 16:18).  Peter’s big heart allowed God’s gift of faith to confess Christ as his Savior before any of the other Apostles (Matthew 16:17).  So wholehearted is his commitment that when Christ later asked the Apostles if any of them wanted to leave Him, Peter can only say, “Lord, to whom shall we go?”(John 6:69).  In Jesus, Peter found the Messiah, the Lamb of God.  And in Peter, Christ found a heart large enough and strong enough to be the foundation of faith for the whole world.  But Peter’s heart, like all our hearts, was a wounded one.  We don’t know the source of his pain, but we see and hear his hurts lived out in the Gospels.
For some reason, Peter found it difficult to forgive.  Someone must have seriously hurt him.  His parents?  His wife?  Her mother, who shared their home?  When he asks Jesus, “Lord how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me?  As often as seven times?” (Matthew 18:18-19).  We can hear the hurt in his voice.  And haven’t we all felt like Peter felt that day?  Wronged by someone we loved and finding it hard to let go of the hurt, we hold onto our anger and resentment until it eats away at us.  On some level we can even enjoy the self-righteous feelings of being a victim.  Yet, as Christ told Peter, we must always be willing to forgive one another.  Forgiveness is a decision we make, a habit that we continually have to practice and strengthen, with God’s help and love.  And ultimately, it was this gift of Christ’s love and mercy that transformed Peter from the simple, wounded fisherman into Christ’s first vicar on earth.  What Jesus did for St. Peter, He offers to do for you and for me—to lead us out of the darkness of our resentments and anger into the sweet freedom found in His forgiveness.  His love transforms our wounded hearts, if we only allow Him in.
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free, and discover the prisoner was you.”
                                                —Lewis B. Smedes (1921-2002)

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