I am Peter, I want to be John

“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.

One Comment Add yours

  1. With all due respect, you are taking the Bible and my post grossly out of context. If you read the whole Bible within the context, you will see a much different view of Peter. Yes, John was always faithful to the cross, how I want to be, because he stayed close to the heart and love of Jesus. Peter’s story on the other hand is a story of failure and redemption. He resisted what Jesus was telling him about needing to suffer and die. This is why he said “get behind me satan”. He wasn’t literally saying he was satan but was saying that the idea he had was a temptation from satan. Kind of like you and I have temptations from satan every day. Peter’s story is one of denying Jesus during His passion, but it was also one of receiving His redeeming grace. Did he not receive the power of the Holy Spirit like the other apostles in the upper room? And did he not have that grace filled encounter after the resurrection where Jesus asked him three times if he loved Jesus and Peter said yes three times. This to reconcile him with Jesus for the three times he denied Him? And did not Jesus tell Peter to feed his sheep – meaning to be the shepherd of His Church? Did not Peter then by the grace of God go on to preach to many peoples, write two books of Scripture under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and ultimately die a martyr for his faith. I want to be John because he stayed with Jesus at the foot of the cross, but unfortunately many times I fail at that and I would venture to say most people do. Peter gives hope to us that there is redemption in Christ no matter how far we fall, and we too can become brave followers of Him if we focus on His love.

    As for the corruption of the Catholic Church. Yes, there is a lot of corruption, mainly because it is made of human people. Sinful human people. However, I think though you are woefully blinded to think that there is not the same corruption in many if not all other churches, maybe not now but at least at some point in time. This is not to excuse it or dismiss the urgent need for reform. This is just to be real. People are sinful, they fall into greed, lust, pride, envy, gluttony, sloth, anger. By God’s grace we can overcome these capital sins, but unfortunately even those very religious can fall so deep into the evil and greatly injure others. This is why we follow Jesus, and why He gave us the grace of protection over our Catholic Church in Mt 16:18 “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of the netherworld will not prevail.” Even though much evil has entered into hearts of some Catholics that lead the church, God will always lead it, and do much damage. He gave that promise so I believe it. I can understand why many are too scandalized or traumatized by the corruption. Instead of trying to reform, they go and make their own church. Isn’t this the story of the thousands of Christian denominations worldwide. Instead of trying to reform the evils, many form their own church. But guess what, they are not immune to corruption because they are made of human people as well. So there is some other scandal and they break off from each other again. It has lead to much division in the church.

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