Well friends, here we are: Holy Week 2021.
One year later, and it’s de ja vu all over again of yet another pandemic Easter.
Virtual Mass, Zoom brunch, being separated from family and loved ones. We’ve been there, done that. And yet, here we are, yet again, once more.
I was watching Mass yesterday – Palm Sunday – with my special gentleman, and as with the every final Sunday before Easter, the Lord’s Passion was read during the Gospel. It’s long, emotional, and yet, familiar to the point where the heaviness and magnitude of what’s actually happening can lose its “hitting power.”
But, like God often does, yesterday during the reading, he nudged my attention in a specific direction. I was struck by a different part of the Passion that I don’t always focus on, when reflecting on Jesus’ death. And that was our beloved, Peter, denying Jesus three different times.
We all know the story. Peter, when asked by the crowd if he knew Jesus, or accused that he had been seen with Jesus, Peter denies knowing Him at all.
He’s our lovable sidekick in this story, right? The good man who has this terrible slip up, but is redeemed when Jesus forgives him and literally gives him the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 16:19.
It’s stories like these in the Bible that I think God purposely put in there to be little nuggets of encouragement for us, right?
Like, God didn’t have to include this little plot twist in how the Passion played out. But I think He allowed it to play out like this, specifically for you and me, reading this.
Because what really hit me, reflecting on this reading from Mass is that, I am Peter. I am Peter more often than I’d like to admit.
Not only did I have a season of my life, during my anorexia where I was actively denying Jesus with my actions, thoughts, words and heart, I am also Peter in little things each and everyday.
Every time I partake in gossip, think an unkind thought, say something sharp, am lazy. All the opportunities where I could do something good for another person, but don’t. Every time my heart has a spirit of pride or vanity. Every slip of a bad word, or jealous or lustful thought…my laundry list of sins on a daily basis are a mile long.
I am Peter.
I deny Jesus through all of those things.
Peter’s story wasn’t over. It wasn’t doomed. He was forgiven and redeemed.
Whenever I hear the story of Peter, I always think to myself, “Gosh, how did Peter live with himself after that?! Denying Jesus three different times…“
Oh, hello kettle…meet pot!
I could be saying the same thing to myself! I am guilty of just the same.
It wasn’t the end for Peter, and it isn’t the end for me or you.
Because of what we’re going to be celebrating, Easter Sunday.
That is why Jesus died. That is why it matters: because in His blood, we are cleared and forgiven of all of those denials — big and small — that we make every single day.
That’s grace. That’s His amazing grace.
Sometimes, the hardest thing for us to do is to receive it, and then forgive ourselves.
Peter didn’t wallow in his royal mess up. But he received Jesus’ forgiveness, and then went on to not only become the first leader of the Church, but eventually became Saint Peter.
He forgave himself and moved forward, living in the light.
Which perhaps, is the most powerful demonstration of the freedom that comes from Christ.
We are never “too broken” for Jesus. We are never irredeemable or unsavable for Him. He loves to forgive, and if we have any doubt, we need to simply look at our lovable goof-up, Saint Peter.
Praying for you all as we embark on this most holy of weeks, leading up to Easter. May our hearts be filled with the overwhelming love of God as we reflect on His death and glorious resurrection.
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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