Recently I watched a movie called The Greatest Showman. This movie is about the story of PT Barnum and the beginning days of the circus. Throughout the movie, viewers watch him bring together a unique group of individuals ranging from the tallest and shortest of persons to the bearded lady, the fattest man, and many others.
While all appears to be fine and good from the outside, PT Barnum heard about a famous opera singer in England and persuaded her to come to America. He profited from the opera singer and was very pleased with himself. While he thought he might be experiencing greed about money, lust about the opera singer, or a desire to do good for the members of his circus, his wife enlightened him and shared that he was pleased with himself because of his desire for esteem which he lacked as a child. His wife’s strong and honest confrontation with him forced PT Barnum to act in the best interests of his family. Fortunately, his performers were able to also benefit from a supportive circus family. His actions also led him to put other things in balance, to stay strong, and to move forward in life.
Today’s readings point us to the choices in committed relationships by Peter, Joshua, and his household. Each of these individuals came to know something and Someone who had the Words of Life. Today, the direction that they followed might say “Spirit-led,” which was the strength and grace to carry their decisions forward and be motivated in God’s Spirit to persevere in that path.
Peter’s words in the Gospel are, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” Some of the disciples returned to their former way of life, but Peter had that inner conviction and relationship with Jesus. That was the motivation and grace behind his choice to remain faithful. Peter did not understand; Peter trusted. He heard in his heart and knew in his relationship with Jesus, that Jesus’ word was Spirit and Life.
In the first reading, Joshua strongly announced that he and his household were to serve God and proclaimed, “For it was…our God who brought us …out of the state of slavery.” Joshua remembered God in the depths of his experience and his soul. He went forward in the service of God and his household.
The second reading from the letter to the Ephesians reminds us of the importance of committed relationships. PT Barnum was confronted with the truth and returned to his commitment. Were the things that could have held him back things that may hold us back? Is it our unchecked needs, emotions, mindsets, sickness, or sin?
Can we be centered in our call and in the leadings of the Spirit who gives life? Will we go away as did some of the disciples or will we return as did PT Barnum? Will we remain faithful as did Peter and Joshua?
The path is already given to us: Faith, Hope, and Love.
Spirit of the living God, grace us in the callings that you give us in our personal lives, in our families, religious congregations, country, and world. May we remain steadfast in faith, hopeful in our journey and ever close in our life-giving and empowering relationship with you.
Sister Jo-Anne Faillace, O.P.