Tuesday, March 1, 2011

By Grace

Doesn't it feel feel normal to be unworthy in the presence of God. It is a healthy reaction, isn't it? Who among us, faced with the glory of God’s perfect love, would feel able to stand? The prophet Isaiah experienced that glory in a vision he had in the Temple at Jerusalem. He felt unworthy. Saint Peter experienced it in his encounter with Jesus. He felt sinful. They fell to their knees, dismayed by their poverty.

That Peter and Isaiah responded similarly reminds us of something very important to the New Testament. God’s dwelling is not a religious building in a particular place: God’s dwelling is Jesus Christ. The glory experienced by Isaiah is hidden within Jesus. Our dealings with God, and God’s dealings with us, take place now through the body of Jesus Christ. It is because we have been made members of that body through baptism that we have access to the Father when we pray in the name of the Son. But Peter has not yet learned all this. For the moment all he knows is that the power of God is working through Jesus and he is not worthy to stand in its presence.

Like Peter we are invited to ‘put out into the deep’, to be courageous and generous in our efforts at following Christ. We will fail often, and perhaps seriously, as Peter did. But we are in good company, for so many have walked this path before us, the path to our true identity: ‘by grace I am what I am’.