Wednesday in the Twenty-Seventh Week of Ordinary Time

Matthew 26:31-35; Mark 14:27-31; Luke 22:31-34; John 13:31-38

But We Declare Our Loyalty

Judas has gone into the night to set in motion the plan he made with the Jewish leaders and to receive his reward.  Meanwhile, Jesus is with his disciples with just a short time left.  He tells them that he shall soon be glorified.  He is speaking of the cross, which Jesus calls his glory, as it is the means for the salvation of his people.  And as the Father is glorified in the Son on the cross, the Son will receive his reward through resurrection and subsequent exaltation to heaven where the Son will be glorified in the Father.  And all of this is to happen soon.  He warns the disciples that soon they would see him no longer, and that their love for one another will pull them through and show others that they are his disciples.

But it is his going away that the disciples so fear.  Jesus even cites the Prophet Zechariah, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (cf. 13:7).  But he also adds the word of comfort, “But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”  But the disciples don’t want to hear this.  If Jesus must go, then they shall go with him.  Peter proclaims in his characteristically impulsive way, “Even though they all fall away, I will not,” but only to hear the awful return that he would soon deny he even knew his Master.  But Peter is emphatic, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.”  And the other disciples affirm the same.

We like to think ourselves heroes of the faith.  We see ourselves manfully receiving the sword without even a whimper; we see ourselves singing hymns while burning at the stake.  Others have done so; why not us?  Perhaps because we can’t even at this moment deny ourselves a bit of chocolate, or tear ourselves away from watching a ball game just to play with the kids.  We can hardly do without our luxuries; how shall we do without necessities?  If we can’t endure the denial of the most trivial things, how shall we endure the flames?  Jesus warned Peter, “Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat.”  What better way to sift people than to shower them with gifts and make them numb with mindless (and endless) entertainment?

We have two great weapons in our arsenal: 1) That our Lord prays for us even now as our Intercessor (Hebrews 7:25); and, 2) That even now we may begin to discipline ourselves that, like athletes, we shall be ready for the contest (1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 11:31; 2 Timothy 2:1-7).  Peter declared his loyalty with bluster; may we declare ours with utmost humility.

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