Peter never really used to be one of my favorites from Scripture, but the older I get, the more beloved he becomes. He gives me comfort because I identify with him, especially lately. At this point in our faith story, Peter is locked away — afraid, ashamed, alone. He doubted, he denied, he ran away. Even before the crucifixion, he often seemed to get it wrong. Imagine for a moment that Jesus says to you, “Get behind me, Satan.” Yeah, that’s pretty bad. And yet Jesus saw fit to call him the “rock,” the one who would go on to lead his church, or, at that point, his band of disciples. Maybe, just maybe then, Jesus sees some shred of worth beneath my many failings, behind my own doubts and fears.
My Lenten plans went woefully awry this year. Again. I’m not sure I even got out of the starting gate. Weeks and weeks of dryness and disappointment. At one point I wasn’t even sure if I should bother going to Holy Thursday Mass this week, that’s how dark my heart felt. You know what changed my mind? My son. On Holy Thursday, when I suggested we might skip the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, he looked at me with stunned disbelief. Then he changed his Facebook profile picture to an image of the consecration and his “cover photo” to Da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper. Okay, we’ll go. Yesterday, when the darkness was just as deep, maybe deeper, my son was in the living room reading the Bible. Maybe we did something right after all. Maybe somehow the spiritual messages are getting through despite my own issues. And, again, Peter came to mind.
On this Holy Saturday, I am waiting in shadows of my own making, like Peter, longing to be set free. Whether I choose to face the light that is just around the corner really depends on me. Can I forgive myself for my own failings? Can I admit to my own weaknesses? Can I accept God’s mercy? Can I prostrate myself before my God and admit finally that I am not in control, that I never was, and that as long as I continue to try to be in control, I’m going to be in the shadows?
Next to the cross in our family and also in my sacred space downstairs are roosters, reminders of Peter, reminders that doubt and denial do not block us from salvation but push us deeper down the spiritual path, if we are willing to be embraced by Love, by the One who was willing to die so we might live.