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Tuesday of Holy Week

Scripture Readings

Today’s readings speak of failure, betrayal, and denial, as well as love and good intentions (which are not always acted on). We hear that Jesus is “deeply troubled” as he enters further into the events that eventually lead to his death. We learn of Judas’s forthcoming betrayal of Jesus and Peter’s eventual denial of him. It is not looking good at this point. We, however, also have the “rest of the story” that the disciples did not yet have. So, I invite you to reflect with me. What are we doing with the rest of that story?

I think it can be easy to idealize the disciples, except maybe Judas who, to be honest, I don’t really want to identify with anyhow. But this gospel story gives us the opportunity to reflect on the humanity and sinfulness of the disciples, and the very real mercy and forgiveness of God through Jesus. Perhaps in a way that we can relate to or learn from. 

Simon Peter loves Jesus so much that he is disturbed to hear that Jesus will be going somewhere Peter cannot go. He loves Jesus so much that he professes he would “lay down my life for you.” And yet, when push comes to shove, he ends up denying Jesus not once, not twice, but three times. Maybe we can relate a little. 

The “rest of the story” for Peter is not only the awe-inspiring resurrection of his beloved Lord, but the forgiveness and second and third chances that the risen Jesus offers him. Later in John’s gospel when the Risen Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, he repeats the question three times. Some say that is to give Peter the opportunity to profess his love and be forgiven for the three times he previously denied Jesus. Not only did Jesus forgive Peter, but he entrusted his “flock” to him. Jesus never gave up on Peter. And Peter did not stay away in shame. Peter accepted that mercy and forgiveness and went on to do amazing things in Jesus’ name. 

We are given that same choice. We can recognize our failures, shortcomings, and sinfulness and turn away in shame. Or we can recognize our failures, shortcomings and sinfulness and accept that boundless mercy and forgiveness awaiting us. What amazing (or even ordinary, but important) work might Jesus perform through and with us when we open to that forgiveness and love? This holy week, let us embrace the“rest of the story” and make it part of our life’s story.

- Eileen Miller