Replenishment

There is a simplicity to Autums’s luring radiantly colored leaves to the brown sanctuary of the earth: a quiet statement about replenishment, change and growth. Laying down something to embrace what is waiting, what comes next. Trusting what is past, what is happening now, and what is to come. Believing, somehow, that Autumn’s presence itself is a harbinger: there is something more to come. Simplicity belongs to each of us as much as it does to Autumn. Times are boldly complex, clearly unfamiliar, definitely uncertain. And then there is the Gospel message of this day: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind…Love your neighbor as yourself.” Mt. 22

There is a profound simplicity in those words, a depth beyond easy grasp. First, be attentive to what is, who is, Other than human. Be conscious of the mystery of being! Celebrate the sunrise, the light, the moment! Find the future in the eyes of the aged; discover the wealth in the joy of the young. Know the wisdom of laughter and the blessing of tears, the comfort of friends and experience of hope in loss. Believe in the more. Recognize what is less. Trust in mystery and discover faith. And then, when you are ready, pause. Breathe very deeply. The next step is about loving self.

How is that done? How does loving self begin? How is it practiced? How is it made real, visible to others, alive in the Universe? Have the courage to ask. Have the courage to wait, to listen, to know finiteness and empowerment at once. recognizing who you are, what you are about, your strengths and areas for growth, is a foundation for learning to love your neighbor. Love is a process, a journey, a commitment to growing. Know that you are growing and changing, and you are somehow choosing that path in the choices and decisions you make. It matters what you do, and it matters how you choose to do it. There are challenges and pitfalls, obstacles and wrong turns, but keeping an eye on the long-term goal is an invaluable tool. Look for the mentors, the models. Find the exemplars you admire. Believe in goodness. Life is short, and moments matter. Trust in change.

And then, love your neighbor as yourself. Imagine tenderness, kindness bestowed upon another. Attentiveness to the person, the moment: that is love. Love respects, love reaches out. It is present in the quiet smile, the door held open, the unexpected gesture. It is present in the truthful statement and gentle wording. It is there with the extra hand, the shared plate, the ability to see the common ground. It is about realizing that having good neighbors starts with being a good neighbor. It lingers with the forlorn and dances with the despairing. There will be moments of rejection, but that is about suffering and meeting suffering with empathy. Most of all, loving your neighbor as yourself is part of the challenge of being human.

Love replenishes purpose in life; it re-focuses attention on what really matters. In a time of such complexity, the very simplicity of the wors, the ideas, offers more than promise.

Mystery

Just off the main road, surrounded by the vigor of fall foliage, sits a simple monastery. The walkway is open; the front door is glass. There is a tiny doorbell under a large sign that says,”Use this doorbell”. So I did. And there began a conversation that threaded the essence of monastic life with the social and cultural life existing all around and within it. The opening words belonged to a Poor Clare, and she spoke of “the mystery of enclosure”.

“Enclosure” to some is a fenced off area, a separate space. To a Poor Clare, it is the space within the house in which the sisters live: their home and their workspace. It is set apart from the public parts of the monastery: visiting rooms, guest rooms, the chapel. It is a challenge and a reality, a purposefully physically restricted space.

There was a twinkle in her eyes as she spoke. With six decades of monastic life under her belt, she had been invited to speak to a parish group about enclosure. “We all live in enclosures,” she said. “Family, friends, work, schools, ethnicity….” and the softness in her voice was strengthening. Enclosure shapes who we are in ways both clear and curious. There are strengths to it: identity and purpose, connections and support. Danger lurks as well. Those enclosures can become insular, and isolating, discriminatory and divisive. Enclosures are like social systems: subtly and consistently, actions become norms and thoughts become shared viewpoints. They are both inclusive and exclusive, and somehow become visible. The enclosure lives within the person as each person lives within it. Consciousness of that reality is enviable.

In the world outside that monastery, the enclosures so casually named are now colliding: the understandings, the images, the perceptions. What was unseen, what gave life and identity, a common purpose and foundation, has challenged the comfortable enclosures of others. That has opened social channels of uncertainty, confusion, convictions and courage in a torrent of wonderings. But above all, colliding enclosures represent an opportunity to generate new groups, new systems, new hope. Enclosures are there to be created and recreated: the enclosure is a human construction, part of a searching for more.

Monastic enclosure also represents that search for the more. Grounded in the truthfulness and simplicity that allows for awareness of the sacred, monastics cultivate the quiet, the attentiveness to the present moment with a tenacity and resilience that belies the structured days, the sameness. Their enclosure is a testimony to both the human spirit and the divine spark. The mystery of enclosure is embedded in the reality of every day, praying together, eating together, discerning and deciding together. There is the mystery: in the very stillness of being apart comes the wealth to become attentive to who and what is present and outisde the physical parameters. Here, the losses and brokenness can be named, accepted, understood if not forgiven; the divine spark genuinely dances into daily lives. Stillness has substance and movement.

Each enclosure is animated by the layered beauty of humanity. And each is maddeningly challenging to live through: humans working with other humans both gifted and flawed is decidedly difficult. Life is difficult: enclosures like family, friends, churches and ethnic groups promise some comfort, familiarity, hope. Our colliding enclosures are dislodging the past and enabling us to choose new structures, a new system, and new hope.

Common Denominators

In vivid words, soft and full of strength, Psalm 23 sketches and then shapes the buccolic image of a shepherd. Loyal and attentive, the shepherd faithfully accompanies the sheep. In a world of dangers, the shepherd insures safety, kindness, home. The dangers are ever present; confidence and comfort are the gifts the shepherd brings. Generation after generation has found a compelling intelligence in the acknowledgment of both the shepherd and the frightful journey through the valley of death. Courage is nestled there in the harbor of those words just waiting to be heard, to be lived.

The Psalmist could not have suspected what 2020 would bring to humankind nor the afflictions humans would visit upon one another. And yet, “though I walk through the valley of death…” resonates with the world we are navigating. Odd, really, that phrases so ancient might still capture the weight of the world with such stunning simplicity. But then, perhaps that is the magic of Scripture: it captures the fears and frustrations, the anger and the joys, the triumphs and the tragedies of what it means to be human. It gives words to humn experiences that might otherwise defy description. Instead, exploring the depth and breadth of the Old and New Testaments, their complexities and translations offer windows and mirrors into the human journey.

Like the shepherd, the words of scripture have a dynamic capacity to reflect and break open the realities of what it means to be human for each generation, for each person. In a sense, Scripture offers a common denominator. It is the ultimate reminder that humans are at once gifted and flawed, powerful and weak, humble and arrogant. So much resides in each person, in each circumstance that engulfs each individual: Scripture captures all of it in dramatic exposition through the power of narrative. Its stories capture the intensity of human passion in the triangle of David, Bathsheba and Uriah; the essence of human greed in the book of Exodus, and the wonder of human love and sacrifice in the book of Ruth. Abraham, Moses, Miriam, Esther, Ruth and Judith, David and Solomon, John, Peter, Mary Magdalene and Paul….psalmists and prophets, apostles and evangelists. All hopelessly and wonderfully human.

That is what we are: memories and messages, miracles and mourning, always sorting through what it means to be alive, what it means to be human. In this fractured time filled with so much suffering, we share the common denominator of humanity with all those who have journeyed before us. Psalm 23 whispers to us of that reality, that we are sheep with a shepherd; and the psalmist leaves us to wrestle with the meaning of what that looks like in our lives.

In mathematics, common denominators are gifts; they empower action and determine pathways to problem-solving. Unifying fractions is made possible, a miracle of sorts. Searching for the common denominators is the key to problem-solving. Edging towards the end of the liturgical year, searching for the paths forward and the solutions to problems plaguing society, means determining the common denominators, the shared characteristics. . It means looking realistically at who we are, what we are about, and why this matters. It means deliberately choosing to realize that energy, fortitude and courage are birthed in awareness of what we have in common. Moving forward as one with the convictions, loyalty and integrity of the shepherd, solutions are conceivable, even possible. Scripture, the Psalmist and the evangelists, the prophets and the disciples open the door. Finding that resonance, trusting the fragility and the strength of our humanity and moving forward choices is clearly up to us.

Relinquishment

Each day of this pandemic, I have watched children weave a new world from the fragments of the last. They glide by on skateboards and bicycles, construct games around the telephone poles, linger at creeks with fishing rods. There is laughter and disgruntlement and a certain order to each moment. They are children of color and of whiteness, and they represent what is possible. In this tiny quadrant of the world, they have come to represent the reality of the future. They are celebrating what it means to be alive.

Then, too, there are the new beginnings as we relinquish the ceratinities of the past. There are the friendships, the new triads of acquaintances based on these new patterns and lifestyles. There are drivers who share the road, educators struggling to meet needs, cashiers who are endlessly calm. It is easy to embrace the negative, to condemn, to shout down what vibrance earth is offering in this time of relinquishment.

There is the chance, though, that what we have been asked to relinquish will yeild the more. Today is the feast of St. Francis, a tiny figure from a tiny village whose name was chosen by the current Pope. He embraced poverty and founded a movement known for working with and for the poor. The lesser known part was his commitment to prayer, his need for guidance and assisance, and his ackowledgement of grace. In the pantheon of saints, his tiny figure became an enormous testimony to grace.

There are startling parallels: Jesus was the stone rejected by the builders, and so Francis and his ways were rejected in his time. Still, he savored the earth and nature and all it had to offer. Still he learned and crept away to find sustenance in quiet prayer at the Carceri and at LaVerna. He knew both strengths and limits and so he chose to live. Most of all, he knew the weight of loss: disagreement among the brothers, ill health, even his loss of sight. That last, though, did not mean he could not see. Relinquishment brought him closer to God. In these days, relinquishment’s pain and challenge may also be offering us the promise of grace.

Days of grace. Grace in the midst of a now filled with uncertainty. Grace, the sense of God’s presence which surpasses all understanding. Grace, to draw close to God without even realizing what has happened. Grace is that helping hand waiting to make each moment more livable, more bearable, more vibrant and more to be grateful for. Relinquishment is the prerequisite.

Humility

Humility. In a world roaring with voices and searching for equity, justice, inclusion and change, humility would have no place. Such a world asks more: the choice, the action, the photo, the video, shot and shared. It demands visibility, advocacy, deliberate involvement. Society is demanding so much more than in the past. But beneath all that churling action is another layer of human life. That is where the Gospel and the Paul’s Letter to the Philippians finds reasonance on this 26th Sunday of Ordinary Time: at home.

Humility. “Jesus was in the form of God but did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at…” Instead, he emptied himself into human form. And there he found the reality that M. Scott Peck summarized in three words: “Life is difficult.” Think about it…so many of the parables introduce deeply painful moments in life. The Prodigal Son story, the workers in the vineyard and fair wages, and today, the two sons: one who refuses his father’s request and the other who accedes to it. And then, the first actually performs the task and the second does not. And while rewards are discussed, the reality is there is no judgement in Jesus’ story. There is a keen sense of observation of human behavior, and a judgement-free zone about the choices and consequences. In those moments, Jesus lives out the humility of what it means to be human. It is not about power or control. It is about navigating the very difficult tides of human life and experiences.

Jesus recognized that each of us lives within systems that are not of our own construction or even liking. The traditional mantra for this is “Give to Cesar what is Caesar’s. Give to God what is God’s.” But there were a multitude of systems that organized society and individual lives throughout history. There was Rome and the governorship, the Temple and the rabbis, the neighborhoods and families. Jesus neither contested nor challenged those in power. Instead, the challenges he constrcuted were deeply personal ones, and each one sprang from a worldview where God so loved the world that choice was paramount. Encouraging that, Jesus not only stepped away for his own power, but he invited others to do the same. He invites each of us to do the same in the places where we are, when we can and how we can manage. He reminds us that judgement of one another has no place, but conversation, communication, and choice is essential. In all of this, Jesus is illustrating very clearly what it means to be in the form of God and not seek equality with God.

That is the message that matters here: we are a nation engulfed in cataclysmic change at the moment. Acknowledging how difficult life is, how suffering is part of life and life itself is simply not fair means embracing our own humanity with humility. Raising our voices for change means making it better for the next generation. Humility recognizes the road is long and circuitous, but the path is of our own making.

Completely Other

This Sunday’s First Reading presents a passage from the prophet Isaiah. Chapter 55:6-9 speaks a message far louder than the words themselves.

6 Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near.

7 Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked his thoughts; let him turn to the LORD for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving.

8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.

9 As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.

Hidden between the words and phrases is an enticing concept: God is completely Other. Who we are as humans is definable in some sense, but God is beyond that realm. Ever present, he is not easily visible. Clearly, His ways and His thoughts defy human imagination. And so it is that over the centuries and millennia, the sharp insight of Thomas Aquinas gains audience: “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary; to one without faith, no explanation is possible.” In a world swirling with uncertainty, groaning with tragedies, bleeding with bitterness, there is a quiet faith sustaining hope and promise, a sense of presence.

Sustaining that faith means nurturing it personally, taking a moment to acknowledge Other or quietly praying the gentle cadence of the Hail Mary or the Our Father or the Sign of the Cross. Each whisper is a consciousness of a dimension that exists but may not be understood or explicable to one without faith. But that need not change the reality of faith or even challenge it. Faith is founded on trust and lives in hope, has the courage to entertain doubt and the depth to be explored. And it is the second reading of the day that highlights a second aspect of living faith: team work, community. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians opens with the words, “Christ will be magnified in my body whether by life or death…” and closes with, “I shall find that you are standing firm and united in spirit, battling, as a team with a single aim, for the faith of the gospel.

In other words, we cannot live this alone. We need one another to uplift, encourage, challenge and comfort, confront engage and grow. Believers are in this together at all times and especially in crisis. Sustaining faith means being aware of and maintaining community connections, reaching out and being reached out to. It means finding strength and courage in one another, entrusting the process of living to a wider community, sacrificing the self-centered certainties to something other, all in pursuit of the more. It is about living a message of respect for one another, for creation itself, in a generosity of spirit that defies human conventions.

That is where the Gospel reading, Jesus’ parable about the workers in the vineyard, comes in. In paying all the laborers equal wages in spite of the fact of various start times, the owner of the vineyard completely defies human imagination about fairness or justice. In so many ways, the story epitomizes what “other” means. It is left to the person of faith to discover that Other in each day, each person, each experience. And slowly, with practice deepening convictions, Other becomes more real, more visible and even tangible in the world. For those who have faith, and those who do not, the world becomes a better place. Maybe that was the whole purpose from the very beginning.

The Forgiver

September is sliding into apple-picking season here in New England. There are those crisp clear nights that bear a hint of Autumn, and just enough cloud cover to contrast with just-emerging colors. That shift is reflected in the readings of the day; they are a summons to goodness, to forgiveness, to love. Jesus’ description of forgiveness offered “seventy times seven” in Matthew 18:22 is actually an invitation to come beyond where we are and realize the power that rests within each of us. It is a moment, like this time of September, about change.

Forgiveness is not a commodity; it is about communication. Most surprising is that the communication itself is deepening a connection. It is not simply about the forgiven; it is about the forgiver as well. To be the one who forgives, who possesses the wisdom, the strength and the courage to do that, is to be sharing compassion that is birthed in the divine, in the presence of Christ within each of us. It means drawing on grace to find freedom. And that means having a connection with God to draw on. We cannot give what we do not have. Sharing the relationship actually enables forgiveness to find a home in other relationships: knowing compassion in one connection leads to compassion in the next. Considering forgiveness of another means looking at self and being willing to change.

The Forgiver has power and risks the offer of forgiveness. The Forgiver must be observant and genuine, see the need for forgiveness even when no request is made. To forgive does not mean to allow perpetuation of a wrong. Nor does it mean that the Forgiver becomes a doormat. Instead, it means embracing reality: accepting what is. It is about moving comfortably in a universe changed and re-designed, better for all. For example, Tamerlyn realizes that her friend and co-owner is stealing from their meager profits and occasionally takes merchandise. Confrontation leads to bitter conflict. Tamerlyn offers forgiveness, but dissolves the business connection. Over time, a form of friendship is recovered. The benefits of this are profound for the Forgiver: a heart free from anger and a mind and soul unencumbered by the bitterness of the past. Moreover, recognizing and accepting the reality of the situation benefit the Forgiver, too, in moving forward.

The Forgiver facilitates the change, but the Forgiven face different choices. There is no less a sense of change or adaptation, though. Circumstances and situations vary so widely, but there is no doubt that every human hurts self and others on the journey of life. There are deliberate and calculated actions as well as words carelessly, insensitively used, and decisions made with dire uninended consequences. Here, too, self-awareness is critical. Realizing the impact of one’s actions, the capacity one has to harm and hurt, destroy and even decimate another is essential in the process of forgiveness. Without that critical understanding, the acknowledgement of personal responsibility, the full grace of forgiveness cannot be realized. The Forgiver can only communicate so much; the Forgiven must communicate, live a change, to seal that forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not like giving a nealy wrapped package; it is about a process of communication that is both deeply personal and necessarily interactive. “Seventy times seven” asks for so much more that a simple act; in so many ways, Jesus was not commanding an action. Instead, Jesus gave an invitation to learning more about the process of communication and becoming a better human being. And that just might mean embracing the many colors of Autumn.

Beauty of the Gray

There is a certain tenderness to the aging process, something that tempers youth’s passionate energies and reconsiders the pieces of the past with a generous understanding of life and truth. It is something that belongs wholly to those who have managed to navigate the complexities of life with reverence and reflection. More importantly, it enables an embrace of the future and a peace with the past. As it occurs, there is a new understanding of the stark contrasts of right and wrong, black and white, light and dark. Aging is the gift of seeing more realistically: self, others, life, truth. Ironically, the acquisition of wisdom comes in partnership with social marginalization: aging, whether we like it or not, means social irrelevance.

Life and truth find new birth in the aging process. Life possesses a treasured heartbeat. There is no longer an endless stream of sunrises: the consciousness of mortality makes it so. But there is a second reality: grappling with truth. Truth finds true resonance in the depth of the soul. Aging allows the understanding that everyone is sharing that resonance, trusting that gut interpretation, searching for the most meaningful truths of human life. Aging allows the embrace of difference, the consciousness of love, the confrontation with the spirit of the law. Most of all, aging provides possibility.

When I was a child, I found it odd that Jesus died at such a young age; it seemed as if everyone older than that would be unable to relate to Him, to call or mission. But as I grew, I learned that the stories of the Bible are often wrapped around that process of growth and aging: there was Abraham, Solomon, David. And in the New Testament, Zechariah and Elizabeth, even the father in the Prodigal Son story. The mirrors, the role models, are there and somehow, they are all connected to living life fully with a spirit of wondrous appreciation and love. That happens in the realization that few things in life are actually clear cut. Choices are complicated: motivations and purposes are diverse; right and wrong are not always easily visible. What seems so clear to one person is opaque to another: neither can grasp the other’s perspective. Being right or wrong has status and sometimes equates to a jostling for power. It is never simple. Aging is the process of letting go of all that, of the process of ascendancy. Aging is about accepting and living reality.

In today’s readings, Romans chapter 13 describes love as the fulfillment of the law. The Gospel reading from Matthew 18 contains the critical line, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Both passages echo a deep truth. Life is about learning how to love, not control one another. Being present to one another and relating through conscious choice. Love is about sharing deep understandings with one another, not being fearful of or threatening each other. Love is about intent, generosity, actions. It is not about power or acqusition of power. There lies the connection with aging.

So much of what was perceived as the life force, the vitality of life is fading in aging. Physical strength and appearance are altered and diminished. What really matters in living becomes far more visible and valuable. The challenges of the past can be looked at once again, and the hurts can be consigned to a broader context…there is the chance to let go of the anger, the griefs, and the losses. Ironically, aging offers the chance to begin again. It may not be visible to everyone, but this is actually something that cannot be understood until actually experienced. Being at home as a Catholic means being all about the journey of life, and realizing the beauty of the gray.

Agency and choice

In a world of change that defines and defies generations, agency as a person has opened up new stages for individuals, given life to ideas and thoughts that would have dwelt quietly in marble notebooks and handwritten journals just decades ago. But now, curtains drawn back and spotlights aglow, new venues abound. Influencers yeild power; youtubers win fame. The compulsion to share words and message exists as it always has in the human story. To be heard is to be recognized, to be known and perhaps to be understood or provide deeper understanding. Personal integrity and collective good seek voice as well as consistency.

At the root of all this lies the esential nature of choice: agency. More than ever, what we do and how we do it matters. There are competing forces at work: self-gratification, noble ideals, murky realities, visible and implicit bias, even contradictory interpretations. There are perceived truths, subjective stories and blinding judgements ciruclating in dialogue. How to choose? How to act? What to believe? What to dismiss? Is it possible to explore or investigate, to genuinely dialogue and learn to contextualize experiences? Does communication dare us to choose for the good for self and others? Is doing the right thing a possibility?

In the tide of the pandemic and all that 2020 has brought, it is tempting to believe that this is the most unique of turning points, that human beings have not grappled with such questions or controversies before. That would belie a deeper reality: our challneges are showcased in 21st century dressing, but every generation before this has struggled with so much. That is where the Matthew 16 Gospel comes in: it is about choice, about what we do and how we do it and the agency we exercise in making those decisions. The Gospel invites deliberate choice, not simply drifting with the tide. The Gospel demands commitment in choice and advises that the complexity of life presents the pain of choosing.  Matthew 12 shows Jesus inviting the apostles to make a choice. In that ancient parable lies a simple truth about humanity: choice belongs to each of us. Owning it makes a difference.

The second reading from Romans 12:2 carries it even further: “Do not model your behaviour on the contemporary world, but let the renewing of your minds transform you, so that you may discern for yourselves what is the will of God — what is good and acceptable and mature.” “Renewing our minds” occurs in each generation of history: mistakes are made, and adaptations are necessary, but the process was as essential then as it is now. Fear has no place in either the choice or the process. For a Catholic, living out the idea of discernment implies a deep and personal connection with God and an acknowledgment of the divine. What we believe comes alive in every ineraction, every decsions, every moment. We are free to choose. We can trust that mistakes will be made, and we can trust that forgiveness is possible. It is literally all about choice.

Catholicism has suffered insitutional scandals, financial failures and deep divisions. The collective and personal failures of the clergy have become reasons for choices and decsions to reject the very concept of religion. And yet, there is that persistent whisper that calls us beyond the brokenness of humanity to the something more. The choices, the exploration, the discernment, all that belongs to this moment. What are the messages, the stories we will share during this time? What will be given life? How will we define our purpose, our identity? How will agency be exercised? Influencers or influenced? Or simply the quiet voices away from the fray sustaining possibilities?

Courage to Ask

As the world wrestles with natural disasters, COVID, elections and the clash of social movements, an uncertain anxiety reigns in even the calmest of hearts. But then comes an invitaiton, a question, and a revelation about identity. Identity, after all, is not confined to ethnicity, race, gender or sexuality. It is also about who we are as persons, emissaries, servants, and human beings. That is made clear in the Gospel of Matthew: Jesus claims his identity as the Christ, but he also invites the disciples to become co-collaborators in His mission. In that, a new identity is formed. It is a call to mission, to become something more in the midst of complicated times. That invitation laid out for Peter comes right after he names Jesus as the Son of the living God. The statement was profound, life-changing.

In many ways, Jesus lays the same question before each of us. “Who do you say I am?” Taking the time to consider that, to wonder for a moment at such dialogue, is a validation of the idea that each person, each life, is precious. Each matters to God. Each issued multiple opportunities for that interaction, that exchange, with God. Taking the time to listen to that questions amid the cacophony of crises in the world and in personal lives makes a dramatic difference. It reframes the priorities, the concerns and even the choices that matter. “Who do you say that I am?” means that a multitude of responses can be made; some will be insightful, some awkward and others entirely inaccurate. And some will resonate with a keen honesty and truthfulness, a sense of deep recognition.

There is another application of the question: to dare to ask this of others, to ask what is seen in us. The feedback, the responses, are a revelatory mirror. It is not always about who we think we are but how we come across to others, how they see and experience who we are. That offers the chance to become who we want to be. Jesus dared to ask the disciples; the answer mattered. The courage to ask is what made the difference: Jesus showed that, and Jesus invites each of us to that very same courage.

Identity is not determined by self alone: it is a composite of factors, of experiences and moments. It is about reconciling what others see in us, what we know of self, and who we imagine ourselves to be. There is a simplicity in the truth of that, in the possibilities that represents. Being named is being known; being known is beginning to be. Both Jesus and Peter begin a whole new phase with this exchange. Asking the question leads to new pathways.

In these most challenging of times, asking the question will require courage as well. But it may also prove to be the chance to find a new path into the future.