Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant. One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side. So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, “Master, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.” So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him. So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or to give something to the poor. So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.
When he had left, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.”
Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.” Peter said to him, “Master, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.” (John 13:21-33, 36-38; NABRE)
Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.”
In today’s Gospel, we hear about both Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial. Despite having walked with Jesus during his ministry, witnessing miracles and hearing his Word, the Apostles will abandon Jesus in his final sufferings. Jesus knows that Peter will, in a moment of cowardice, deny him multiple times. Yet, in his mercy, Jesus knows this is not a rejection of him but a consequence of human frailty. He tells Peter that he will be able to follow him later to where he is going. Judas cannot follow Jesus, since he will fully reject his mercy, but Peter can follow despite stumbling in cowardice. As disciples of Christ, we are not condemned for our frailties, since our Lord is merciful. If we choose to accept instead of reject Him, we will be shown compassion for our weakness.
Are there times in your life when you have denied Jesus? Have you hid your Catholic faith to avoid stigma, denied belief in a doctrine out of convenience, or remained silent when hearing attacks on your faith? Have you skipped Mass, neglected prayer, or fallen out of continual conversation with God, because it is more convenient than walking alongside Him? Would you still be cowardly or neglectful if you could physically see your Lord, who is ever-present there beside you? We have all acted as Saint Peter did in his denial of Christ. We all have human weaknesses and imperfections that cause us to stumble, even in our desire to follow Christ. Jesus will show us mercy, as he did Peter, and allow us to follow him to where he is going, despite our denials. We need only to be remorseful and ask for forgiveness. We will be forgiven. God is our Father, and His mercy is boundless.
Copyright 2022 Jessica Tucker