This is maybe one of the first passages where Jesus is being sarcastic (at least in my mind), and it caught me off guard. Simon Peter tells Jesus, “Lord, 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? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.” Jesus is saying: truly, will you? Because you are saying one thing and are about to do another. This got me thinking.
When was the last time we were guilty of this? When is the last time that we may have said one thing, but done another? It is tempting, sometimes, to quickly judge Simon Peter for his denial of Jesus, yet sometimes the peer pressure and temptation is so strong that we all find our ways into the wrong situation or decision at times.
This reading feels very timely for our Lenten journey as we move closer and closer towards Easter during this Holy Week. How many times have we been fickle in our commitment, or made exceptions out of convenience to our Lenten observance? I am for sure guilty of it, and Simon Peter’s story is a good example for us to reflect on. It is easy to see other people’s flaws and shortcomings, such as any of us reading today’s gospel about Judas or Simon Peter in 2022. We may think to ourselves: How could Simon and Judas do that to Jesus? I would never.
And yet, how can we instead turn our prayer inward to refocus our energy and frustration into looking at our own lives? May those without sin throw the first stone. In choosing to admit our own fickleness and denials of Jesus, we are reminded that we are all sinners, no one person better than another. It humanizes each of us, so even when we don’t agree with other people—politicians, leaders, colleagues, or friends—and they seem dissonant in their action, we are able to understand and show compassion. We all have something to work on in terms of living out our values, and today’s readings invite us into reflection about our own commitments and beliefs. Do we act in accordance with our beliefs and values every day, or do we have some things to work on moving forward into these last few days of Lent?
It’s a little scary to look inward and face ourselves, but we find peace and comfort in the loving kindness that God surrounds us with each day. No matter our situation, God is always there to catch us or put an arm around us to wrap in a warm embrace. God is calling each of us into friendship with Her. Our journey during Holy Week is the perfect time to answer that call.
Alyssa Perez serves as a community organizer for LA Voice, a multiracial and multifaith organizing network in LA County. She was a Jesuit Volunteer in Belize City (’15-’17) and holds theology and political science degrees from Loyola Marymount University and a masters of nonprofit administration from the University of San Francisco. Having been Jesuit educated for 12 years, she is deeply committed to Ignatian spirituality and building the Beloved community.