Grace: Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. (2 Cor. 10:17)
Text for Prayer: Keep your eyes on Jesus. Lk 22: 47-60
The mob breaks the silence of the dark night and charges toward Jesus with Judas leading the way. The disciple kisses his master on the cheek, and with that gesture of peace perverted, the restless mob grabs and arrests Jesus. The momentarily zealous Peter runs off and denies knowing his friend not once but three times. As those closest to Jesus move further and further away, the night becomes darker and darker. The Man who comforted the poor, healed the sick, and forgave sinners is now Jerusalem’s most wanted criminal.
On this night when power is weakness, reason is reversed, and confidence is shattered, what heart could be proud, what head could remain high? There’s no honor in apprehending an innocent man. There’s no glory in saving one’s life at the cost of another’s life. Who can boast of anything this night when the Reason for humanity’s boasting is being taken away?
That night many of the disciples learned that they had too much confidence in themselves and too little in God. Their reliance on themselves was worse than their abandonment of the Lord. After the betrayal, Peter’s shame pulverized his ego, and only then was he able to let Christ be his only strength so that he could rise up again and lead Christ’s Church.
Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J. spent fifteen years in confinement in Moscow. Out of hunger, exhaustion, and fear of death, he signed confessions of absurd crimes (e.g. espionage for the Vatican) that he knew he did not commit. He was certain he had what it took to be a martyr of Christ, but he realized after he signed the confessions that he made a terrible mistake in replacing reliance on Christ alone with self-reliance. He never wanted to repeat Peter’s boast ever again. “Even if I have to die with You, I will never deny You!” became “Jesus, I trust in You.”
As we head to Calvary, let us prepare to nail our egos to Christ’s cross.
Somehow, that day, I imagined I must know how Saint Peter felt when he had survived his denials and been restored to Christ’s friendship…. I doubt very much that Peter ever again boasted that he would never desert the Lord even if all others deserted him…. For just as surely as man begins to trust in his own abilities, so surely has he taken the first step on the road to ultimate failure. And the greatest grace God can give such a man is to send him a trial he cannot bear with his own powers—and then sustain him with his grace so he may endure to the end and be saved. -Venerable Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J., He Leadth Me