The Eagle

I’m back in Rome after a happy stay at St. Isaac Jogues in Rapid City, grateful for my time in America and all that I continue to learn at my adopted parish in particular.

One anecdote came back to me this morning, reading the Gospel about the call of Peter, an important passage for me in accepting my own call. Peter recognizes his own unworthiness–“Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man”–but Jesus is undaunted and calls him anyway. And, of course, Peter’s subsequent story is filled with missteps, too, with the Lord again reaching out to save him and get him back on the right track. Yeah, I can identify.

At a confirmation in Rapid City a few years ago, one of my Lakota friends gave a talk that has stuck with me ever since about the eagle. Few objects are considered more sacred among Native Americans than eagle feathers, and few sights, I have to say, are more impressive than an eagle or a hawk soaring over the land.

But the point of this story was how the eagle teaches her young to fly–by carrying the little ones up into the winds and letting them go. At first they plunge, flailing and failing–until, from below, the eagle swoops down to catch them, save them, carry them aloft to try again. And that’s Jesus, my friend said, to a hushed congregation, with a conviction that could only come from knowing what it’s like to plunge and to soar.

Author: Anthony Lusvardi, SJ

Anthony R. Lusvardi, S.J., teaches sacramental theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He writes on a variety of theological, cultural, and literary topics.

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