I have read this passage many multiples of times, and yet, as so often happens with Scripture, something new popped out for me this morning. Jesus is talking to Simon Peter and before Jesus bluntly tells him that Peter will deny Jesus three times before sunrise, Jesus tells Simon that he has been praying for him. Praying that his "faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, may strengthen your brothers." Peter doesn't get it, and so Jesus has to be more blunt and tells him about the thrice denials coming a few hours away.
"When once you have turned back...." is just jumping off the page at me today. How often in life this saying has been proven true. That we do not hear or see messages or signals that are right in front of us and head in the wrong direction. We are too distracted by other "things" in our lives. And even though this can be distressing, this lack of being cognizant enough to "get it" the first time around, Jesus is saying, there is a way back. There is forgiveness and love available to all of us: even when we think ourselves silly or incompetent for missing that which, with hindsight, we can see clearly.
These next two weeks of our Advent Season can be well utilized in trying to recognize those things in our lives, our relationships, our trajectory, that may be taking us down an unhealthy path. When we recognize those things, and when once we have turned back, we know there can and will be welcome and love and support and a new life open and available for all of us, all through the gaze and the presence of a babe in a manger.
Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.