We have all done it. We said that we would do something and then when the time came, we bailed out. We had the best of intentions but circumstances might have emerged that made us quickly change our minds or even prevented us from delivering.
There might have been some very valid reasons for bailing. When the time came to fulfill a promise, we might have encountered another priority which took precedence. Or, we might find ourselves sick or not in the best of health. Another pressing factor could be that we might find ourselves broke or out of resources to carry out a responsibility and to do a half job could potentially make a situation much worse. Or we might find out that it was not God’s will in the first place.
Or there might be some not so good reasons. The situation was not what we thought it would be. Our motives might not have been all that pure. The view from the inside of a crisis is much different from the perspective standing on the outside. Anyone who has experienced tough times will tell you. We might feel pressured. We are weak. Or we might feel our life, reputation, and/or livelihood is at stake. Or we just were not thinking in the first place.
Human beings are fickle. We change our mind. In fact, we are downright wishy washy. We might do things for no particular reason. And to top it off, we live in a world where many factors are out of our control– no matter how much we would like to believe that we are in control. We cannot control the weather, let alone predict the weather, especially if one happens to live in Chicago. We all have to die and some of us have to pay taxes.
Tuesday’s Gospel reading contained a famous example of the best laid plans gone awry. St. Peter states that he will lay down his life for Jesus. However, he does not realize that when the time comes he actually will end up denying Christ:
Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?”
Jesus answered him,
“Where I am going, you cannot follow me now,
though you will follow later.”
Peter said to him,
“Master, why can I not follow you now?
I will lay down my life for you.”
Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me?
Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow
before you deny me three times.”
We really don’t know how we will be when the crap hits the fan. In a way, the difficulties in our life really help to strengthen and define who we are. They help to define where we stand.
But if we know the story, even if we mess up, all is not lost. St. Peter bailed three times in denying Christ. But he learned from this trial. He went on to become the first Pope of the Church. He eventually ended up being crucified upside down. His bones are buried under the Basilica that bears his name at the Vatican.
Chances are we might mess up when our moment to shine arrives. But take comfort in knowing that we can be redeemed. We can learn from our mistakes. We can understand ourselves better for the next time around; that is if we get the opportunity.
Even Jesus as a fully human person contemplated if His Cup could be taken away from Him while in the Garden of Gethsemane. However, in the long run, He decided to carry out His best laid plan for our sake.
We are in the midst of the holiest week of the Church now as we approach the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Be on watch, as the best laid plans unfold. Or fall asleep.