The Word Among Us

Lent 2020 Issue

Follow Jesus this Lent

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

By: Jeff Smith

Follow Jesus this Lent: Dear Brothers and Sisters, by Jeff Smith

What is the season of Lent about? At its core, Lent is about letting Jesus change us so that we can follow him more closely, just as he changed his first disciples. In the Gospels, we meet many inspiring disciples. Some left their families to follow Jesus. Some left their livelihoods. Others went so far as to give up their lives for the sake of Jesus and his gospel. So many heroic witnesses!

But one person that we meet again and again in the Gospels is St. Peter. Why do we find Peter and his story so captivating? Because he is so real! Like us, he was passionate about following the Lord at one moment and so weak at another. He was a real mixture, just like us.

Peter was so moved by Jesus’ preaching that he left everything to become one of Jesus’ first followers. Yet he was also keenly aware of how unworthy he was to be a disciple: “Depart from me, Lord,” he said, “for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5:8).

At one moment, Peter was so impressive that Jesus called him the “rock” of his Church and promised that the gates of hell wouldn’t prevail against him—or against us (Matthew 16:18). Then, just moments later, Peter tried to keep Jesus from his mission, and Jesus rebuked him sharply: “Get behind me, Satan! . . . You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do” (16:23).

Later, in Jerusalem, when following Jesus became much more dangerous, Peter denied even knowing him. He had heard Jesus say, “Whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father,” yet he still did exactly that (Matthew 10:33). But who was proclaiming the risen Christ to a huge crowd on Pentecost and thrown into jail for the sake of the gospel? Yes, our brother Peter (Acts 2:14-41; 5:17-40).

We Are a Mixture. We are all “Peters” in our own way. Every yes we’ve told the Lord in prayer, every time we’ve prayed with a friend or shared the love of Christ with someone, and every “cup of cold water” we’ve given brings Jesus great joy (Matthew 10:42). And still, every poorly spoken word, every act of selfishness or fear, and every sin we commit shows how weak and in need of correction we still are, just as Peter was.

In our main articles this Lent, we want to invite you to join us in taking a journey with Peter. Like him, we are going to let Jesus climb into our boat so that we can hear him teaching us. Like Peter, we are going to learn the grace of obedience. And like Peter, we are going to get out of that boat and become missionaries for the Lord in our everyday lives.

So let’s invite Jesus to transform us as he transformed our brother St. Peter. And if you feel the journey is too challenging, then imagine Peter standing beside you and saying, “If Jesus could change me, he can change anyone!”

God’s blessings on you and your loved ones this Lent.

Jeff Smith

[email protected]