The denial of Peter

Peter was no coward.  He was ready without a second thought to die defending Jesus from the crowd at Gethsemane.  But Jesus wouldn’t allow it.  And so it was:  the Master was in the hands of His enemies, the populace had turned on Him, His disciples had fled ignominiously, the movement–whatever it was–was over.  Nothing left for Peter to do but wonder whether he’ll be able to get that fishing gig back.  Then a servant girl sees him and says, “Hey, aren’t you one of the followers of that lunatic they just arrested?”  Peter was ready to be a martyr, back when it might have made a difference.  Now the fight is over.  Standing with Him now won’t help the Master; He’ll never even know.  Why throw my life away now, for nothing, he thinks.  “I do not know him.”

Afterwards, Peter remembered what Christ had predicted.  When Peter had professed his loyalty to Jesus, what Christ had cared about was not Peter’s loyalty when it mattered, but his lack of loyalty when it didn’t matter.  The latter was the kind of loyalty Jesus really wanted.  That was the real test–will you stick by the Savior when the cause is already lost and as far as worldly eyes can see your sacrifice will do nobody any good?  Not just loyalty unto death, but loyalty unto pointless death.  Can you sacrifice to God purely out of devotion to Him, not to advance the Cause?  The Cause you place entirely in His hands.

All Christians owe Peter their gratitude for his subsequent heroism in service of the Faith, not least in his making sure that this story of his own weakness would be preserved for our benefit.  Its application to 21st-century reactionaries is apparent.

3 Responses

  1. St Augustine warns us “that God, in order to show us that without grace we can do nothing, left St. Peter without grace” and St John Chrysostom also says “that the fall of St. Peter happened, not through any coldness towards Christ, but because grace failed him; and that he fell, not so much through his own negligence as through the withdrawal of God, as a lesson to the whole Church, that without God we can do nothing.”

    A very sobering reflection.

  2. […] No doubt the cause seems already lost, and yet we must fight on.  I remember what I once wrote about the denial of Saint Peter: […]

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