Tuesday of Holy Week
(Isaiah 49:1-6; John 13:21-33.36-38)
Lists of Jesus’ disciples in the New Testament invariably name Peter at the head and Judas at the tail. The reason for these placements is obvious: Peter acts as Jesus’ vicar while Judas betrays him. Some believe that the two once vied for honor. Judas, the treasurer of Jesus’ band, obviously merits some trust, and Peter always speaks for the group. Today’s gospel, however, casts a murky hew on both.
Jesus predicts that both men will sin against him. Although a few commentators equate their crimes, Judas’ is unquestionably more odious. He turns Jesus over to his enemies with premeditation and for money. In contrast, Peter denies Jesus out of spontaneous fear for his life. But the difference between the two men is better perceived in their coming to awareness of their faults. Crying in remorse, Peter will overcome his shame to rejoin Jesus’ discipleship. Although Judas in different versions of the gospel also mourns his sin, he lacks the humility to acknowledge his sin before the community.
Peter’s example should inspire us all. Possessive of a fallen nature, we will at times fail to clear the high bar Jesus has set. But this fact does not exclude us of his friendship if we confess our failure and rejoin his following to try again.