Gratitude, like legacy, is not a concrete noun. At its best, it too is an active verb. It is a gift to be paid forward, especially to the young and the most vulnerable among us. But gratitude is more than action, it is a way of life.
What the way of Jesus requires of his community is not unqualified inclusion of everything, but a radical, unconditional love for every human being, especially the least and the last. And then he calls us to a way of forgiveness that extends all the way out to our enemies. These are not ways of being that humans simply fall into when given the freedom to do so. They require us to consciously build a different kind of culture together as his church, and to be uncompromising about the demands that a truthful way of love makes on our lives.
Poor Peter. It was only last week where he and Jesus had a real moment together. See, Jesus has been making a name for himself, and it’s not altogether a good one. Sure, people know who he is, but the room gets quiet when he walks in, the people cough and look away and some do that thing where they make a loud statement to try and make it look like they haven’t just been talking about him. People in his home town snub him, say he’s getting a big head. Teenage girls giggle and point when he walks by, the mysteries of their affections known sometimes to themselves and never to others. Jesus has started avoided walking by the police, and after that bad business with the pigs, the pork industry has him labeled as some fanatic Jewish PETA activist.
So, what’s this “Saved Savior” trope in the Bible all about? Have you noticed it? Maybe not the term “Saved Savior,” since I made it up yesterday. But have you noticed that a lot of the most important savior types in the Bible have to get saved themselves first?