Through Lent with Pope Francis
Let us now turn our attention to them, to the apostles. Jesus chose them and at his call, they left their boats, their nets and their homes and so on… The anointing of the Word changed their lives. With great enthusiasm, they followed the Master and began to preach, convinced that they would go on to accomplish even greater things. Then came the Passover. Everything seemed to come to a halt: they even denied and abandoned their Master.Homily Holy Thursday Chrism Mass
We should not be afraid. We are courageous when reading about our life and our failures, even denying and abandoning the Master, as Peter did. They came to grips with their own failure; they realised that they had not understood him. The words uttered by Peter in the courtyard of the high priest following the Last Supper – “I do not know this man” (Mk 14:71) – were not only an impulsive attempt at self-defence, but an admission of spiritual ignorance. He and the others perhaps expected a life of triumph behind the Messiah who drew crowds and worked wonders, but they failed to understand the scandal of the cross, which caused their certainties to collapse. Jesus knew that, on their own, they would not have succeeded, and so he promised to send them the Paraclete.
It was precisely that “second anointing”, at Pentecost, that changed the disciples and led them to shepherd no longer themselves but the Lord’s flock.
Here is the conflict to resolve: Am I a pastor of the Lord’s flock or of myself? The Spirit is there to show us the way. It was that anointing with fire that extinguished a “piety” focused on themselves and their own abilities. After receiving the Spirit, Peter’s fear and wavering dissipated; James and John, with a burning desire to give their lives, no longer sought places of honour (cf. Mk 10:35-45) which is careerism; the others who had huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, went forth into the world as apostles.
The Spirit changes our heart and points it in a different direction.
Mark 14:66-72 NCB
While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the high priest’s servant girls came by. When she noticed Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, “You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.” But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.” Thereupon he went forth into the outer courtyard. Then the cock crowed.
The servant girl saw him and again began to say to the bystanders: “This man is one of them.”
But again he denied it.
Shortly afterward, some bystanders said to Peter, “You are unquestionably one of them, for you are a Galilean.”
Then he began to shout curses, and he swore an oath: “I do not know this man you are talking about.”
At that very moment, a cock crowed for a second time, and Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
Thought for Today
Peter was afraid. Sometimes we are frightened for our life, as St Peter may have been in the courtyard. Sometimes we are just frightened to stand out, to say something we think might be unpopular, uncool.
Are you aware of times you have denied the truth, denied what you believe for fear of standing out, or being seen as unpopular?
Ask for the gift of strength to be true to your beliefs, your own truths.
My Song is Love Unknown – Choir of St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney