Peter is a central character in the Passion narratives. On Palm Sunday each year, we hear the story of his denial of Jesus.
In John’s Gospel, read today and on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, Peter is also prominent. We know what will come on Good Friday, as Peter stands in the courtyard of the high priest and blatantly denies knowing Jesus. But in today’s selection, from the Last Supper, that denial is juxtaposed with the betrayal of Judas. The power of evil is at work, reaching even into the circle of Jesus’ disciples. Judas leaves the supper and goes out into the night, to gather the forces to arrest Jesus.
Meanwhile, Peter is confronted with Jesus’ declaration that he is leaving, going somewhere his disciples cannot follow. His question is honest: He wants to know where Jesus is going. Jesus’ hour has come, and he must face it alone. In a scene reminiscent of Peter’s profession of faith as depicted in the other Gospels, where he immediately rejects the way of the cross Jesus must walk, the Lord assures Peter that he cannot follow now but will later. When Peter protests that he will lay down his life for Jesus, the Lord confronts him with his impending denial.
We can be quick to distance ourselves from Peter’s cowardice. But we must truthfully look at our own response as we walk these days of Holy Week. What would we do, what have we done, when called on to witness to Christ?
Today’s Action How are Peter’s enthusiasm, honesty, and weakness apparent in your life?
Jesus, help us to follow you as you walk the way of the cross. May we not lose heart in the face of suffering. Amen.