Thursday, August 21, 2008

What Words Do You Hear?

John 21: 14-17
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." He then said to him a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, "Do you love me?" and he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." (Jesus) said to him, "Feed my sheep.

Greetings to all! Well before I get into what feel like God is putting on my heart today I wanted to take a second just to thank all of you for your continued prayerful support of our family. We are very much leaning into it right now and want you all to know that it is truly working. We are hanging in there, fighting the good fight, and trying our best to love each other with all that we have and are. I shared a story with Ali that one of the readers had emailed me about a real connection her five year old daughter has with Baby Cate and immediately Ali burst into tears, I was like OH GREAT, Good job Charlie!, but actually she said, that is her high point of the day! We share high points a dinner every night with our kiddos and that precious story help lighten the load of grief for Ali, so thank you all very much for you stories of how God is still using our sweet Cate to move in your lives.

As I sat in Mass today listening to the reading I was very moved by how gentle our God is. Here is Jesus sitting, I would imagine almost face to face with Simon Peter, the same Simon Peter who had denied Him publicly three times just days earlier. The same Simon Peter who not only denied him, but was no where to be seen, at least not openly anyway during Jesus’ crucifixion. This had been one of Jesus’ closest Apostles during His whole public ministry and Peter just bailed that sinking ship as quickly as He could. Jesus, in the most loving gentle way calls Peter back into relationship with Him. But, notice how Jesus does it. It is not forceful, it is not derogatory, it is not degrading, or humiliating, in fact all Jesus does is ask Him a series of questions.

Well, let’s be honest, Jesus asks the SAME question three times, “Simon, son of John, Do you love me?” Did you really hear that? Read that again and allow those words to sink into your heart. “Do you love me?” I love it! There are a million questions that Jesus could of asked, like; What in the Hell where you thinking? Do I mean that little to you? Are you that chicken? Do you feel bad about that decision? Are you sorry? But Jesus doesn’t, because those questions never entered his mind or heart, Jesus KNEW how much Peter was hurting, how ashamed and sorrowful he felt, He knew that those questions would not empower Peter, but cripple him. So what does Jesus ask Him, “Do you love me?” You can almost hear the gentle and healing words filling your ears and overflowing your heart. Our God does not get caught up in the past for He looks to what lies ahead for us, just to steal St. Paul’s words and as the Psalmist says in Psalm 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far have our sins been removed from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on the faithful.

Now thinking about those powerful words I have to be honest when I fail miserably as a husband and father. When I selfishly choose my way over God's way to serve my wife and children or when I run from the commitment I have made to be a husband and a father, those are not the words I hear. Especially in this time of mourning often it is easier to just worry about me, then to worry about Ali, Ella, and Dude and sometimes that is what I choose to do to be honest and the words that I hear are not, “Charlie, son of Chuck, do you love?” The questions I get usually start with YOU and the followed by one of these adjectives idiot, moron, loser, self-absorbed jerk, and then end with one of these questions, are you happy now?
Do you really feel good about that? Is that what “holy” dad’s do?

After listening to the Gospel today I got to thinking, who am I listening to? That is not what I hear when I turn my back on Jesus. Ah, yes, what a perfect opportunity for the evil one to kick you while you are down, so you stay down, but what does our God do when we are down? He comes oh so gently to bring us back in to the fold and He does it with the most compassionate and understanding demeanor. How blessed we are to have a God who loves us like that and who runs to meet us, like the prodigal father. In those times that we turn our back on our God, our spouse, our children, our family, our friends and those sharp words of condemnation come flying at our face may we take refuge in the shadow of His wing and listen very carefully for the beautiful words, “Charlie, Do you love me?” You can fill your name in there where mine is, I don’t think God would ask you that question with my name in it that would just be a little awkward. It would be like my grandmother who, bless her heart, could not remember my name so she could just call me random cousins and/or uncles until she go it right. Anyway, may we all keep praying for that we can be gentle with ourselves as God is gentle with us. Much Love, The Cantrells

19 comments:

sherriedavid said...

Charlie,
It amazes me that you sometimes think of yourself as self absorbed. You are the most selfless person I have ever met. Through everything you and your family went threw you were always here for us with updates on Cate and now updates on yourself always with such inspiration just because we have requested that from you. Some people in your position would say "Are you nuts!"
Our prayers are always with you guys.

The Davids

Anonymous said...

Catching up on the blogs- thank you thank you thank you for your words! I am praying for you and your family every day-

I love the butterfly story- amazing how God can work, truly amzing.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, Thanks for your beautiful interpretation. May we all be as gentle as Our Lord is with us with our precious families.

Love and prayers

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

Thank you for your words today. I am often very hard on myself when I feel as though I have failed as a mom or wife. I have never left a comment, but I read your blog as often as you post it. I am gaining so much from your words and I am still praying for your family every day. Baby Cate's prayer card is propped against my bathroom mirror so I see it every morning. My almost 2 year old daughter holds it every morning and talks to baby Cate while I fix her hair. Thanks for sharing through this hard time.

Angela McDavid

Crystal said...

Charlie keep on being the amazing person you are. Your not perfect, none of us ever will be. You keep striving to be the best dad and husband you possibly can be. We will continue the prayers.

God Bless,
Crystal Judice

Anonymous said...

Charlie,

I have never looked at this Gospel passage in this light. I always saw Jesus as pointing out Peter's trifecta of denial. I never actually paid attention to the words Jesus used. I never saw the invitation in them. Now I can see that Jesus does not point out the denial but rather forgives and invites Peter back. Now I see that Jesus does the same with me! Thank you for sharing with all of us. We will continue to unite our prayers with yours, especially at Mass today!
God's Peace be with you,
Nick LaRocca

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say thank you for continuing this blog. It truly is THAT inspiring! Still praying for you guys, especially Ali.

Karen said...

Thank you for pointing out our God's gentleness. I'm sure I have heard those words. Sometimes I turn and run, and sometimes I take Him up on His generous, gentle offer. Thank you so much for sharing.

Karen

kellysuch said...

Ha! I'm almost finished reading this blog today, halfway crying as I realize my selfish ways this week and whatya do, Charlie? Talk about grandma and make me LMAO outloud~! Typical!
I so loved seeing you all last weekend. I'm so grateful that Ali's coworkers are so respectful and generous. love you all so much and still falling asleep praying! kelly s

Bartas in Texas said...
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Bartas in Texas said...
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Bartas in Texas said...

The Lord's presence is so visible in you guys. Thank you for humbling yourself before us. We continue to cover you in prayer. We love you and your family.
jeremy & courtney

Anonymous said...

it's funny how much i see butterflies now!! i feel smiles from heaven!

maria

marin said...

Wow---your words are amazing. we continue to pray for all of you. Butterflies have a special meaning in our lives too---I'll have to share the meaning in person next time I see you all.
marin

Lila Lambert said...

Hold fast...Help is on the way, the One thing greater than our strife is His grace...

Anonymous said...

You, Ali, Ella, & Dude are in my prayers and thoughts daily. And Baby Cate will forever hold a place in my heart and in the heart of my family. Much love to you.
Stephanie Johnson

artjewl said...

You have my prayers. I wish I could give you more. May God's strength and comfort be with you as you mourn and seek healing.

In Christ's perfect love,
Julie

sumi said...

Charlie, I haven't read for a while because life is crazy busy right now. I just came on over and this post is so precious. Thank you for sharing the sweet gentle heart of Jesus with us.

I am praying for you all as you navigate this crazy path called grief... my hubby confessed to me tonight that perhaps what we thought was peace in the beginnings was just numbness, since he is struggling with such sadness and anger at the moment.

I still maintain that we were truly covered by the peace of God, yet it is also obvious that it gets a little harder walking this road before it gets easier.

May God keep you closely tucked underneath his wings...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for continuing your blog-it's so inspiring. We've never met, but I continue to pray for you and your family. btw, my grandma did that too!