Readings: Isa 52:13–53:12; Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9; John 18:1–19:42
Scripture: Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm. And they said to him, “You are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” (John 18:25)
Reflection: Today is a day of darkness, death, and denial. This is where we end up when we allow fear to rule our hearts. Darkness moves like a slow, rolling fog through the valleys of our lives and settles there, clouding our vision, much as it did that day for the Pharisees and Sanhedrin, for Pontius Pilate and Simon Peter, for every person in the crowd who screamed, “Crucify him!” It may seem that power, rather than fear, was at work. After all, only power gone mad can have a man scourged, crowned with thorns, and hung on a cross. But the truth is that fear, not power, does those things. Real power lifts where fear oppresses. Real power resurrects where fear destroys. Peter found that out the hard way, and it’s in him that we find hope for ourselves as we struggle toward Calvary today.
We see him warming his hands and denying the Messiah, and it seems as though all hope is lost. Even Peter. Although we don’t have the details of what happened after the cock crowed and Peter realized what he had done, we can make an educated guess. No doubt, it wasn’t pretty. Locked away in desperation and self-disgust, the story could have ended there for Peter. But it does not. While darkness may rule the day, we know it does not have the last word. Not for Peter, and not for us, if we allow God’s power to do its work in our lives.
Meditation: The sorrow of Good Friday is palpable. We can feel it in our bones. Even the prayers of the Church and the Liturgy of Good Friday ache with the pain of what has occurred on Calvary, this unspeakable act that results in unending life for all of us. God writes straight with crooked lines. The cross becomes a symbol of life. Death becomes the doorway to eternity. Is there darkness anywhere in your life today? Can you look to the cross and see the sliver of light trying to break in? Hold tight to the cross, and the darkness will not win.
Prayer: Lamb of God, broken and battered on our behalf, forgive us for the times we have doubted and denied. We trust in your mercy. We lift high the cross. We thank you for facing down the fear and transforming it into new life for us.
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