Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” …Peter said to him, “Master, 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? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.”
I read somewhere that a significant difference between a man and a woman is that a man tends to underestimate the danger and overestimate his abilities, while a woman underestimates her abilities and overestimates the danger.
Well, we are not as strong as we think. I know I’m not.
Simon Peter was about to experience this fact. He had followed the Lord. He felt secure next to the Lord. He had found his purpose in life with the Lord. He was a proud disciple of the Lord. But now the tide of favorability had turned against him. Men were seeking the Master’s life. The motion was made: I will lay down my life for you. The question remained: would he stand by him or would he fall?
We know the shocking truth to this ending. Nothing is withheld. Nothing is left out. The Apostles had the courage and the foresight to spell it out for generations to come: Peter was not as strong as he thought he was. We were not as strong as we thought.
That very night, Peter would end up running away from the arresting soldiers and deny three times he ever knew Jesus.
There are consequences to our actions. Peter went away and wept bitterly.
Some time ago, a woman came to me and told me that she had made some terrible decisions in her life and that now she was living with the consequences. I asked her about her faith journey. She told me that she had been away from the Church for over 10 years and that she had not been to confession since she was a teenager.
Yes, there are consequences to our actions. But I told her something she could not have imagined: that her very poor decisions had led to some very good consequences.
My dear woman, you have suffered tremendously due to the poor decisions you’ve made. And now you are living with them. But do not forget all the consequences. For example, you have come back to the Catholic Church. You’re back home. You’ve begun to pray again. You’ve come back to Sacrament of Reconciliation and have received the Lord’s forgiveness. You were caught in your lie and have been released, set free, by the Lord. Yes, you are truly living the consequences of your poor decision and, as a result of it, have become a gentler and humbler woman.
What I said reminded me of today’s passage from the prophet Isaiah: “Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, yet my reward is with the Lord, my recompense is with my God” (Is 49:4).
Did Peter not feel worthless? Did he not feel that all was lost because of his weakness; that everything he did was a waste of time because of his grave sins? Yes! But he recovered! Thank God He recovered! He understood, through prayer, that this lesson had to be learned...for his sake. He learned, once and for all, “I am not as strong as I think I am. I am not as strong as the Lord!”
Resolution: I will place more of my confidence and trust in the Lord, and less in myself.