Saturday after the Third Sunday in Lent
And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.” But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know this man you are talking about.” At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then 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. Mark 14: 69-72
I have grown to admire and love Peter more and more. As a child, Peter was presented to me as the most Holy and Perfect of the Saints, holding the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven and head of the Church on Earth. He was so perfect and saintly that he seemed aloof and out of reach. However, when I read the Gospels and Acts on my own, I came to see Peter as a person full of flaws. He was impulsive, rough, outspoken, crass and surly. He failed Jesus many times. Even in Jesus’ darkest hour, Peter denied knowing Jesus. I came to see Peter through a looking glass that reflected the person I was – flawed, insensitive, impulsive, and sinful. As a result, I found hope in Peter. If Jesus was willing to empower Peter and give Peter authority, then perhaps, Jesus would empower me to live out my vocation in order to build the kingdom of God here on earth in spite of my flaws, sins, and shortcomings. I grew to love Peter not because he was superhuman but because he was truly human, saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, often putting his foot in his mouth, and even prone to violence as when he cut off Malchus’ ear. Peter did protest that he didn’t know Jesus and through his remorse and tears came to face the reality of his own ugliness. As a result, he realized that Jesus loved him for who he was. By coming to know his true and authentic self, Peter realizes that he was finally seeing what Jesus Christ saw and the reality that Christ loved him anyway. In the end, Peter came to love himself and love God and was willing to sacrifice everything for Christ, even his own life. May we have such hope.
The Rev. Tim Gavin
The Episcopal Academy