I am a student of human development. How people grow and change is something that drives me, fascinates me, and some days even baffles me. When you watch little children grow you see them change almost daily; there are times when I look at my 5’9” teenager with wonder—how did you get so big all of a sudden? But it doesn’t happen "all of a sudden." Millions of cells change in millions of ways over millions of minutes and slowly our bodies grow from baby to child to adult.
As I settle solidly into my forties, I'll admit there are times when I now look into the mirror and think, You don’t look at all like yourself anymore. It is easy to look in the mirror and be critical of ourselves at all ages. In high school I wanted to be more voluptuous. In college I wanted to be skinnier. In graduate school I wanted to be more toned. Now, I just want to look like my mental image of me.
Our physical changes are visible, but how have we changed internally over the years? How has our soul grown and aged and weathered the years? Is it withering up or is it filling out?
As Jesus speaks with Simon Peter in today’s gospel He foreshadows more than just normal aging—the Gospel states that clearly He was foreshadowing the type of death He would have, a martyr's death. Saint Peter can only have this by offering a gift of his body to God. (John 21:19) The changes we experience physically as we age also foreshadow our own death. We, too, will have to offer this earthly life to God in the end. It is the growth, progress, maturation, and decay of our bodies that reminds us to prepare our hearts for life eternal. And isn’t that what we are ultimately striving towards? Life eternal, in Heaven with our Savior, and one day with resurrected bodies that will never grow old.
Do you spend more time thinking about your physical condition than you spend thinking about your soul? How can you help nurture the development of your character and relationship with Christ today?
Dr. MaryRuth Hackett is Director of Operations for Blessed is She. She loves historical fiction, dark chocolate, watching her children play soccer, a good cup of coffee (decaf please) and the quiet of the early morning. She holds a PhD in Educational Psychology and has a passion for helping parents understand the way their children grow and develop. You can find out more about her here.