I just dont understand


#1

Hello all, this is my first time posting. I was referenced here by my brother, who is a semenerian in the Dominican Order of Preachers.

In the last month or so I have felt empty and spirit-less. I feel alone even when I’m in large groups of people. I have indeed lost my faith. But not by a death or any other climatic reason, but becuase I can not comprehend one simple part of the the bible:

I was reading the New Testament when this little glitch popped into my head: Jesus performed many, many miracles. Some were on his apostles (like Mathew the tac collector), but most were in front of them atleast…meaning they witnessed Jesus’ power. They saw what he was capable of doing, so believing that he is god when he said so is very easy.

The problem I have is that after seeing FIRST HAND Jesus’ power, believing and following him thereafter, that Peter could deny him 3 times becuase his life was threatened. Deny a man he witnessed casting out demons and giving a blind man the gift of sight. That Judas could betray the same man he saw curing leprosy and other horrid diseases.

In todays world, we have far less evidence that Jesus’ is God. Far less visual proof that Peter or Judas. But how many of us Christians would die for Jesus’ name if we had to. I know that when I was at my peak of faith, I would have in a heartbeat.

The undeniable fact is that no two men could or would deny or betray Jesus unless they in a way didn’t believe him. How could they not believe him? They saw his power with their own eyes. So really there are only two conclusions to this - either these miracles did not happen and Jesus was nothing but a liar or Peter and Judas are the 2 weakest men to ever walk planet earth. Which makes me ask, why is Peter a Saint? And, then is it safe to say that the Catholic Church is only as strong as the man who founded it?

Please share your opinions, it might fill be back up.

Thanks, Joefie


#2

[quote=joefie]Hello all, this is my first time posting. I was referenced here by my brother, who is a semenerian in the Dominican Order of Preachers.

In the last month or so I have felt empty and spirit-less. I feel alone even when I’m in large groups of people. I have indeed lost my faith. But not by a death or any other climatic reason, but becuase I can not comprehend one simple part of the the bible:

I was reading the New Testament when this little glitch popped into my head: Jesus performed many, many miracles. Some were on his apostles (like Mathew the tac collector), but most were in front of them atleast…meaning they witnessed Jesus’ power. They saw what he was capable of doing, so believing that he is god when he said so is very easy.

The problem I have is that after seeing FIRST HAND Jesus’ power, believing and following him thereafter, that Peter could deny him 3 times becuase his life was threatened. Deny a man he witnessed casting out demons and giving a blind man the gift of sight. That Judas could betray the same man he saw curing leprosy and other horrid diseases.

In todays world, we have far less evidence that Jesus’ is God. Far less visual proof that Peter or Judas. But how many of us Christians would die for Jesus’ name if we had to. I know that when I was at my peak of faith, I would have in a heartbeat.

The undeniable fact is that no two men could or would deny or betray Jesus unless they in a way didn’t believe him. How could they not believe him? They saw his power with their own eyes. So really there are only two conclusions to this - either these miracles did not happen and Jesus was nothing but a liar or Peter and Judas are the 2 weakest men to ever walk planet earth. Which makes me ask, why is Peter a Saint? And, then is it safe to say that the Catholic Church is only as strong as the man who founded it?

Please share your opinions, it might fill be back up.

Thanks, Joefie
[/quote]

I’m not sure if Peter was so much denying Jesus’ power as he was denying KNOWING him. He was possibly rather embaressed, and may have gotten in trouble just for hanging out with Jesus.

Judas was just a jerk. Thats it. He cared about money more than anything. Satan has power, but I don’t run around following him. Judas was too proud, and took the easy way out-he wasn’t willing to take up the Cross. He fell away after Jesus spoke about the Eucharist, so maybe that made him deny Jesus as a crazy, and think his previous miracles were tricks.

As for the Church being as strong as the man who founded it-all the discples screwed up. Peter was chosen because he was, in the end a good guy, and I heard there was evidence saying he was a pretty successful fisherman and ran a little business, and so his leadership skills would help. Besides, why would a man 2000 years ago affect how strong our Church is today? If we had a bad Pope, does that mean the Church as a whole is weak?

Don’t forget, in the end all the Apostles save St. John DIED for Jesus, including St. Paul who only had a vision of him. This shows that they truley did believe what they saw. I think St. John was also tortured, and God saved him from martyrdom at one point. I don’t know that for sure, though.

Hope this helps.


#3

Maybe there is no real reason to have to understand everything.

We accept the beginning - creation - and the end - the resurrection and life ever after. In between we often have a mess, but we also have the grace from God to get through it.

Silly example, but try this…

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdgnieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deodn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deod not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig, huh?


#4

I agree, the Catholic Church is only as strong as the man who founded it. That man is the God man, Jesus Christ. Remember, Peter knew who Jesus was. Lord you are the son of the living God. It is my father in heaven who has revealed this to you. Also remember we are all human, which means we have weakness, fears etc… Some peoples fear of dying may be stronger than others. We all have said in our lifetime that we would die for our faith no matter what, but in reality we have know way of knowing this till someone has a gun to our head (so to speak) and puts us in that situation. I know for myself I say I would die for my faith and love of Jesus all the time, but if it really happened would I start thinking things like, who will raise my kids, they need their dad, what will my wife do for money to pay the finances. Then there’s the actual fear of dying that is instinctively built into us. Would all these thoughts race through your head in a split second along with, well Jesus knows i really love him know matter what i say with this gun to my head. We all can second guess. By the way the question you ask has entered my head before too. The Holy Spirit guided me through it. I will pray for you.


#5

Dear Joefie,
Jesus founded the Catholic Church, not Peter.
Peter DID DIE because of his faith in Jesus
Peter, as any man, was not perfect and he repented for his moment of weakness.


#6

joefie,

I actually had the same problem you’re having at one point in my life. But, part of what “fixed me” was contemplating the facts that FuzzyBunny shared with us in the quote above.

Sure, Peter denied Christ after witnessing many miracles, including the Transfiguration, which totally blew my mind. Seeing as how Peter eventually died for Christ later, I took it to mean that it simply wasn’t His time. He had things to do…like get the Church going for instance(!) before he could die for his love of Christ. But die for him, he did.

Mike


#7

Hi joefie!

Very good question, and one I’m sure others have wrestled with as well.

I guess I look at it this way. The apostles were just “regular joes”, ordinary guys like you and me, who struggled with every aspect of all that being human means. I have seen God do some pretty amazing things in my life, but usually I find I can only really see that in retrospect, as I look back down the events of my life. At the time, it seemed like hell had broken loose and I was scared/worried/angry/stupid accordingly, but in consideration later on I discovered that not only did it work out for my good, but was part of a pattern that displayed God’s interest and concern as well as just plain old love for me. (Then I tend to really feel like an idiot!).

I think that as you read on in the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles, you see that they had a very similar experience. (Except for Judas, who “cashed out” before he had that chance. Could he have been a great apostle had he lived? I guess we’ll only know when we see God…) Remember that even Thomas doubted, yet he was the one who said “My Lord and my God” when he finally saw the risen Jesus and then went on to spread the gospel all the way to India and there be martyred.

At any rate, I guess the word we are looking for is “redemption”. Redemption of our time (life), redemption of our way of living and treating each other, as well as eternal redemption of our souls.

Would I die for my faith and my Lord? Wow! I want to respond as Peter did and say that I am ready, but we both know the path that that took him on. I would like to think that I’m willing to accept the martyr’s crown, but look what fear did to St. Peter.

In the end all I think I can do on that is prepare my heart and pray for the strength and wisdom to follow the will of God whatever it may finally be. I know I’m gonna give it my best shot. The Lord be with you!
Pax tecum,


#8

Joefie, first, it was not St. Peter who founded the Church, but it was the Lord Jesus Christ Who founded it upon St. Peter.

Second, it is one thing to know something in one’s heart, but another for that belief to reach into all parts of our lives, especially when we are put to the test. Notice that it was before the Lord’s Resurrection that St. Peter in his human weakness did not have the courage to respond according to the true faith that he had. But after the Lord’s Resurrection and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, strengthening them all to be witnesses to the Lord, we see him boldly proclaiming the Gospel -even going to prison (from which he is miraculously released), Acts. 12. Read chapter 21 of the Gospel of St. John; there you will see the Lord asking St. Peter, “Do you love me?” three times. Here St. Peter is seen in a very vivid way overcoming his three denials.

Later in Rome he will endure the same death as Our Lord, although he asked to be crucified upside down since he didn’t see himself as worthy to be put to death in exactly the same way as his Lord.

Third, consider the different reactions of St. Peter and Judas: one reacts in despair and commits suicide, the other recognizes his weakness and turns in trust to the mercy of God.

Saints are not just those who remain faithful from the beginning, but also those who have gone through personal failures - even great sins (like St. Augustine) - to find holiness through seeking the mercy of the Lord. This surely brings hope to all of us as we struggle to be faithful in the midst of our personal infidelities.


#9

so are you saying god made an example of peter showing us that everyman has weaknesses and when we fail god will still love us?

thanks for everyones help, im already feeling better

joe


#10

Joe,

One more thing to consider, that might help you sort this out. If the account of the miracles are not trustworthy (meaning they were added later on) – wouldn’t it have been easier to just take out the part of Peter denying Christ?

What I mean to say is: why are BOTH miracles and doubt in the Scripture and Tradition - and faithfully handed down?

The best answer is that they both happened. Throughout the gospels we have accounts of Jesus rebuking his disciples because they had already seen miracles and still did not comprehend.

Join with me in prayer to the Holy Spirit:
Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.

I constantly have to remember to pray that.

God Bless,
VC


#11

One more thing I wanted to add was that when Jesus was “caught” and was going to be crucified, Peter denied Christ, and ALL of the apostles except John SCATTERED. Here they thought they were following the Messiah, who according to popular Jewish belief was supposed to become a king and have a mighty kingdom. As much as Jesus tried to explain things to them, they still had that popular belief in their minds. So when Jesus was caught, they must have thought “What is going on here? This isn’t what we thought would happen!”, and they panicked.


#12

Joefie,
All the replies above are very good. I would only add that, as we sit in our comfortable home reading the Bible, it’s easy to criticize those whose weakness and humanness made them falter. Being there AT THE TIME is another thing altogether.
It’s like reading an account of combat; say something on World War II. It’s easy to criticize the coward who runs from the battle. but what would you (or I) do if we were really there.
Perspective is one of the most difficult concepts to teach. Time helps.


#13

[quote=joefie]In todays world, we have far less evidence that Jesus’ is God. Far less visual proof that Peter or Judas. But how many of us The undeniable fact is that no two men could or would deny or betray Jesus unless they in a way didn’t believe him. How could they not believe him? They saw his power with their own eyes. So really there are only two conclusions to this -

either these miracles did not happen and Jesus was nothing but a liar or Peter and Judas are the 2 weakest men to ever walk planet earth. Which makes me ask, why is Peter a Saint? And, then is it safe to say that the Catholic Church is only as strong as the man who founded it?

Please share your opinions, it might fill be back up.

Thanks, Joefie
[/quote]

we know these miracles happened because the gospel, which relates the story of Christ’s actions on earth, is divinely inspired. Your other conclusion is the correct one: Peter and Judas, and the other apostles are some of the weakest people who ever walked on this planet. This is a Church for the weak, who come to Christ that they might become strong, because they are weak for the sake of Christ and boast only of His strength, not their own. This is not the Church where people who are already strong come to lord their strength over others. Those who claim to be strong must become weak, “like little children” as Jesus said, in order to find the strength of Christ.

The Church does not derive its strength, its truth, its unity, its holiness from the attributes of its leaders or of its members, but from her founder Jesus Christ and the protection of His Holy Spirit, whom He sent to strengthen, protect and guide the Church. If your faith rests on any person other than Jesus Christ, no matter how wise, holy, or virtuous, your faith will fail. Even the greates of all saints, His own mother, is holy and wise only because of her cooperation with His saving action, which gained her the singular grace of entering this world free from sin, through the merits of her Son.


#14

[quote=joefie]Hello all, this is my first time posting. I was referenced here by my brother, who is a semenerian in the Dominican Order of Preachers.

In the last month or so I have felt empty and spirit-less. I feel alone even when I’m in large groups of people. I have indeed lost my faith. But not by a death or any other climatic reason, but becuase I can not comprehend one simple part of the the bible:

I was reading the New Testament when this little glitch popped into my head: Jesus performed many, many miracles. Some were on his apostles (like Mathew the tac collector), but most were in front of them atleast…meaning they witnessed Jesus’ power. They saw what he was capable of doing, so believing that he is god when he said so is very easy.

The problem I have is that after seeing FIRST HAND Jesus’ power, believing and following him thereafter, that Peter could deny him 3 times becuase his life was threatened. Deny a man he witnessed casting out demons and giving a blind man the gift of sight. That Judas could betray the same man he saw curing leprosy and other horrid diseases.

Thanks, Joefie
[/quote]

The Bible is a bit of an artificial construct. It portrays pre-crucifixion man, and post-crucifixion man.

So, we see weak, stupid pre-crucifixion Peter, and bold, successful post-crucifixion Peter.

The picture is somewhat artificial – the grace of salvation in fact goes forwards AND BACKWARDS in time, and has always been there.

BUT, the Bible portrays pre-crucifixion behavior as though the grace of the cross were not available then, to make the point that THE CROSS PAID FOR THE EMPOWERING GRACE.

In truth, historically we find BOTH “weak-Peter” and “strong-Peter” behavior BEFORE AND AFTER the crucifixion.

So, chipper-up, ask God to give you the grace to be like Peter when He was bold and successful AFTER the crucifixion, and He will give it to you.


#15

“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Christ asked Simon Peter that three time in the last chapter of John’s gospel.

“Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” was Peter’s response each time.

It was as if Christ was giving Peter the opportunity to atone for the three times he denied him. Remember, our beloved Apostles were extraordinarily human. It’s easy for us to Monday morning quarterback their actions, today, but try to put yourself in their sandles in their day. Sure they saw the wonders of Christ, but there was no way they could grasp the full meaning of his life until after he rose from the dead…and even then, they likely still sinnned from time to time…just as we do. We love ourselves. Dying to ourself as Christ has called us to do is a lifelong process.

If all it took was a witnessing a miricle to believe, then there would be no need for a savior. All one would have to do is witness the birth of a child.

Pray, and we will pray for you, too


#16

[quote=joefie]The problem I have is that after seeing FIRST HAND Jesus’ power, believing and following him thereafter, that Peter could deny him 3 times becuase his life was threatened. Deny a man he witnessed casting out demons and giving a blind man the gift of sight. That Judas could betray the same man he saw curing leprosy and other horrid diseases.
The undeniable fact is that no two men could or would deny or betray Jesus unless they in a way didn’t believe him. How could they not believe him? They saw his power with their own eyes.
[/quote]

Peter denied Jesus, but not because he did not believe in what Jesus could do. Rather, even though Jesus told his apostles what was going to happen, Peter still couldn’t understand why his miracle-working Lord and Master wasn’t doing for himself what Peter knew he could do. Thinking his master was giving up, Peter then denied Jesus to save his own sorry butt.

Judas betrayed Jesus, yes, but not to have him killed. Rather, Judas thought that Jesus would be flogged and released and he, Judas, would walk away with his pockets secretly stuffed with silver. Because Judad did believe in Jesus as a miracle worker he thought the flogging would do no lasting physical harm - didn’t Jesus heal everyone else easily? It was only upon learning that Jesus was condemned to die that Judas despaired of the unanticipated result of his sins and killed himself.

… or Peter and Judas are the 2 weakest men to ever walk planet earth. Which makes me ask, why is Peter a Saint? And, then is it safe to say that the Catholic Church is only as strong as the man who founded it?

I look at everything Peter did from the moment Jesus was resurrected until Peter himself was crucified by Nero in Rome.

Gee, if an uneducated, simple fisherman could do all that, with such unstoppable faith, what does that say about the rest of us?


#17

[quote=NanS] Peter denied Jesus, but not because he did not believe in what Jesus could do. Rather, even though Jesus told his apostles what was going to happen, Peter still couldn’t understand why his miracle-working Lord and Master wasn’t doing for himself what Peter knew he could do. Thinking his master was giving up, Peter then denied Jesus to save his own sorry butt.

[/quote]

This explains it for me. Peter knew Jesus had power, but he couldn’t understand why Jesus wasn’t using it. Remember, this is the same Peter who had earlier been admonished for trying to convince Jesus that He shouldn’t have to suffer. Peter, at that point, had no concept of the idea of how suffering could fit into God’s plan. Even now, for us who know about the Resurrection, the role of suffering in God’s plan and in our lives is to some extent a mystery.
It just reminds me of how easy it is for me to deny Jesus when I see things going wrong in my own life. I know He can make things right, but when things aren’t immediately fixed, it is very tempting to decide that I can’t trust Him to take care of me and that I have to take care of myself–even if that means turning away from Him.

Judas betrayed Jesus, yes, but not to have him killed. Rather, Judas thought that Jesus would be flogged and released and he, Judas, would walk away with his pockets secretly stuffed with silver. Because Judad did believe in Jesus as a miracle worker he thought the flogging would do no lasting physical harm - didn’t Jesus heal everyone else easily? It was only upon learning that Jesus was condemned to die that Judas despaired of the unanticipated result of his sins and killed himself.

Another possibility is that Judas, like many of the Apostles, was expecting an earthly kingdom. After the triumphal entry in Jerusalem, it seemed like the time was right for Jesus to take over and kick out the Romans with the help of the followers who shouted “Hosanna!” at his entry. Judas might have thought that if he turned Jesus over to the authorities, Jesus would reveal His power and finally begin the earthly kingdom.


#18

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