“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 13:37-38
These words from the Gospel today pierce my soul like a two edged sword, convicting me.
While Peter denies Jesus during his passion and stays at a distance, John is there at the foot of the cross and presumably stayed close on His way to the cross. In fact, John is the only one that stays close to Jesus during the passion. The others fled in fear.
I am Peter. I have always known this. But how I wish I were John.
Having a more shy and nonconfrontational personality, one of my weaknesses is that I shy away from speaking to others about my faith and convictions. I don’t want to offend anyone or say the wrong thing. I am afraid of suffering and being misjudged. I often wonder if I would have had the bravery to walk the way of the cross with Jesus, and be with Him at the foot of the cross.
What Gave St John So Much Courage?
“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?'”-John 13:23-25
I remember hearing the famous theologian, Scott Hahn, talk about the beloved disciple during the last supper. According to Dr Hahn, tradition tells us that the beloved disciple is St John. He also reflected that St John was the only one to lean back on Jesus’ bosom (or chest) after receiving Him in the most intimate way during the last supper – the time after Jesus had given Himself in Holy Communion for the first time. This act of leaning into Jesus’ bosom is very significant because it is a very intimate act that only those who truly loved one another would do. He reflected that it is possible that it was this time of leaning on and experiencing this special love of Jesus that gave St John the grace to stay faithful to Jesus during His passion.
May I So Believe in that Love
As I reflected on all of this during Holy Mass, I prayed that like St John, I too may always lean into the bosom of Jesus and experience His great Love for me.
That like St John, these moments of resting in His love may give me the courage and strength to walk with Jesus along the way of the cross and stand up unashamed for my faith.
And that like Peter and the other apostles, the love enkindled by the Holy Spirit, and fortified by His intimate giving of self in Holy Communion may change me. After all, they failed once, but then went on to give their lives in love unafraid. Like them, there may be some hope for me yet.