In A Fog

In late June the Church celebrates the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.  When I think of Peter, the person, I always experience a variety of mixed emotions.  I am amused by his brashness.  I am surprised by how dumb he is sometimes.  I am jealous of his moments of courage.  I admire his unabashed love of Jesus.  I have no doubt of his “manliness”.  I am humbled at his perseverance and the fact that he has an unshakeable, supernatural sense of God’s forgiveness.

There is one thing, though, that I have never had doubts about: Peter’s unwavering, steely, clear minded determination after Jesus was no longer with him. Once he assumed leadership he made no mistakes and shrank from nothing.  He was a man transformed, God’s ever available offer for each of us.

This makes the incident in Acts 12:11 even more real as well as an example of my own responsibilities in the kingdom that I can’t easily excuse myself from.   Sometimes it’s too, too easy to pass “those Gospels” off as “stories” that were exaggerations or embellishments of a tale told and retold.

The entire collection of Gospels are the “living word” and intended to be models for our own behaviors no matter what age we happen to live in.  In this particular instance Peter had just experienced James’ murder and now was the butt of Herod’s viciousness.  He was arrested and jailed under high security precautions with double chains, physically sleeping between two armed guards with even more guards at the doors of the cell and the main prison door.

We know that when God has a plan there is nothing man can do to thwart it.  Peter is wakened from sleep, told to get dressed and then escorted out by an angel as chains fall away, gates magically swing open and no one else stirs.

For me, though, that’s not the most impressive thing about the situation.  Instead, it is this:

“They emerged and made their way down an alley, and suddenly the angel left him. Then Peter recovered his senses and said, ’Now I know for certain that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod….’” (Acts 12:11)

By this point in his ministry Peter had witnessed countless miracles firsthand.  That would include the Resurrection and the Ascension.  How is it possible that he still has a seed of doubt about God’s action in his life?  I don’t know.

I find this story to be an enormous comfort in my own faith life.  I am no spring chicken and I too have been the first hand witness of many miracles both personal and otherwise.  I find Peter’s reaction more encouraging that anyone could ever speak to me.  He was literally in a fog while God got him organized and then sent him on his way to do the work of the Kingdom.  More often than not, I suffer from that same fog, even when God is in my face and gifting me a miracle up close and personal.

Even after all these years of ministry, intercession, and work for the Kingdom I don’t really know what to do when God grants me a miracle or prayer request.  It always sends me into a tizzy about how to be better or how to be thankful enough or how to “clean up my act”.

Lo and behold Peter and I are just the same!  In his heart of hearts he really doesn’t believe that God will do a miracle just for him.  Peter is ever flawed even in the face of an intimate friendship with the flesh and blood Jesus.

Then again, when the fog cleared, he was unstoppable, unflappable, and could not be deterred from ministry.  Peter is my hero. Maybe there’s hope for me too?

Copyright © 2013, Kathryn M. Cunningham

Kathryn M. Cunningham

Kathryn M. Cunningham

Kathryn holds a Master’s in Education from Saint Xavier University. Most recently she completed Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies from The Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. This recent degree was part of a “retirement project” after teaching for 35 years. She has also worked as a spiritual director, music minister,council member and prayer team warrior. Kathryn has a deep interest in catechesis for the people in the pews. As a “sort of” convert she finds the wisdom of the Church a source for encouragement, joy and survival in a world not sure of anything. Her writing has appeared in diocesan publications and on-line sites, most recently for Zenit. To learn more about Kathryn check out her thinking at:">

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