In the Gospel today, Jesus is with His disciples and He tells them, “My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.” Peter asks Jesus where He is going and Jesus responds similarly. Then Peter says, “Master, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus responds, “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 13:31-33, 36-38)
I sat reflecting on this part of the Gospel for some time this morning. I realized that I am Peter. He was so passionate in that moment with the Lord that he committed to laying his life down. He didn’t want Jesus to leave him behind. He wanted to be able to follow the Lord wherever He was going. In a similar way, I desire to give my heart completely to the Lord. I want to lay down my life for Him, which is part of the reason I’m entering the convent.
This is all well and good but that’s only the beginning of the story. Exactly what Jesus says, in response to Peter’s desire to lay down his life, for him happens. Peter denies Christ three times. And it’s not like it’s any old day either. Peter denies Jesus during the most trying time of His life. Christ is on His way to His death and Peter, one of His closest friends denies Him. And Christ knew this all along. He knew that Peter would deny Him. Jesus still chose Peter to be His disciple and eventually the first Pope. Just because He knew that Peter would fail Him didn’t stop Him from calling Him to be better. It also didn’t stop Jesus from loving Peter.
Like Peter, I want to follow the Lord. I desire to lay down my life for Him. But also like Peter, I fail to follow through. I commit to giving everything to the Lord but I deny Him by choosing other things over Him all the time. The Lord knew that I would fail Him before I was even born. But He still chose me. He still loves me and calls me to follow Him. He gave me the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that when I fall I have a way to ask for forgiveness and receive His mercy that is always waiting. It’s something I often forget. But it’s so important to remember the Lord’s love for me. It’s also important to remember that we aren’t the only ones who have failed. The disciples messed up too and Christ still chose them. And if Christ still forgave Peter for denying Him when He was on His way to the cross, Jesus will forgive me as well.