Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Station IV: Peter Denies Jesus

"Do you love me", Jesus said to Peter, three times. Each time, his question was met with an unequivocal affirmation, wrapped in a barely concealed incredulity at the question. This Station brings to mind the moment in the Passion story when the most loved Apostle denies Jesus an equal three times, equal to his claims of love only a short time before. 

In many ways, I have less sympathy for Peter than I do for Judas. Judas, by virtue of his own calling, was instrumental to the progress and fulfillment of the prophecies - but Peter was, in many ways, set up for a pratt-fall. Jesus knew it, and was proved right. Joke on Peter. It could be argued that Peter's denials were self-preservative, but in the end add yet another layer of desolation to the burden carried by Jesus. In one account, we are told that Jesus heard Peter's words - and in Jesus's mind, there went the closest and most militant of his friends. It is hard to articulate, but I have pondered the implicit judgement on the Church as represented in the person of Peter. I wonder if in our petty politics, power-struggles and in-fighting, we deny Jesus by our actions. There will, of course, be much that can be said about this denial being a symbol of our weakness as human beings. In the end, what has to be acknowledged too is that Peter, the Rock upon which the Church is built, by his denial, ensured the birth of the Christian movement. Had he been bold, would it have been a different story?

"Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times" [Mk 14:72]

My prayer at this Station is for the Church across the world, that it may fix its eyes on the cross and not on its own aspirations for itself. I pray too for those torn by inner-conflict.

Lord Jesus, as Peter betrayed you,you experienced the double agony of love rejected and friendship denied:be with those who know no friends and are rejected by society.You understood the fear within Peter:help us to understand the anxieties of those who fear for their future.To you, Jesus, who gazed with sadness at your lost friend,be honour and glory with the Father and the Holy Spirit,now and for ever. Amen

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