the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” (Luke 22:61)
I was recently blindsided by a situation which left me feeling exposed and even betrayed. Because I know God is in all things, I took it to Him in prayer to try to process what happened. I knew clearly I was supposed to meditate on Jesus’ betrayal. I did that for several days, and this morning I sensed God telling me I was looking at the whole situation from the wrong perspective; He wanted me to meditate on how the Apostles felt betrayed by Jesus.
The Apostles Felt Betrayed
I was shocked and exclaimed, “Lord, you are Perfect. You don’t betray.” “I know,” He said, “but do what I tell you.”
So I changed how I was looking at things and I decided to put myself in Peter’s shoes instead of Jesus’.
It struck me then. From the perspective of an Apostle, they probably would have felt betrayed by Jesus. They had spent three years with Him. They knew he could cast out demons, he could feed 5,000, he could heal the sick, heck, He could calm the sea. Yet, they watched their supposed Messiah taken away, imprisoned, tortured, and sentenced to death.
Peter reacts. He draws his sword and begins to fight. He knows Jesus can lay these people out flat. Right? Right?
But Jesus doesn’t. And Peter still doesn’t understand. This is because Peter doesn’t see from God’s perspective. He still has a worldly point of view.
Peter wanted to conquer. He just couldn’t see that Jesus is conquering. He probably felt confused and a deep sense of betrayal. He went into a very human mode- fear.
Jesus was walking Peter down a very dangerous path, according to the world, and exposing him as a follower of Jesus. He was putting him in harm’s way. Peter, relying on himself, had to figure out a way to save himself. Deny, deny, deny. Peter feeling betrayed by Jesus, denies him out of fear because he couldn’t see what the heavenly realm was doing. The things he thought were solid were just sand. He had to have his whole perspective rebuilt on the solid ground of God’s Kingdom. Because God knew, and knows still now, worldly danger is something we can conquer or overcome, but losing your salvation is far more dangerous.
Peter’s first step as an actual leader of God’s people is an act of humility, weeping bitterly when he realizes what he has done after hearing the cock crow.
He went out and began to weep bitterly. Luke 22:62
This is his moment when he realizes Jesus never betrayed him, but it was he who, in his denial, betrayed the Savior. This is the moment Peter leads.
It got me pondering too, that the one person who always had the Godly view in her heart was Mary. She is the Mother of Mercy. It is the reason why two of her sorrows are also two of her joys. There is the view from the world that when she takes Jesus to Simeon and he prophecies that a sword will pierce her heart, this becomes a sorrow for her. Knowing the path will lead to suffering. Likewise, when she searches with anxiety for her lost child in Jerusalem. But the Godly view recognizes these as joys. The prophecy is that the Messiah has to come to save us. The finding in the temple, the prefigurement of the Kingdom of God. He is in His Father’s house and so should we be. This is why even if she felt an emotion of hurt, she responds without sitting in the offense of it. She trusts God’s larger plan.
So this pondering brought me to the Church today. There are two kinds of betrayal. The kind that Judas did, which was outright evil and intentional, and the kind that Peter did, which based on his weakness and made out of fear. He wasn’t intentionally trying to do wrong, but he did, because he relied on himself in reaction to the emotion of fear. He was able to be lifted out of that because he repented in an act of humility which is how great leaders rise up.
I realized a couple of things, first, in my own situation, it actually had little to do with the other person, and everything to do with God’s perfection of me. But second, it brought me to the current Church crisis;
We are in a place where we see Cardinal against Cardinal, and Bishop against Bishop, as the prophecy of Our Lady of Akita speaks about.
I feel certain that there are Judas’ involved. Those who intentionally chose evil but I also feel there are Peters involved. Those who out of fear acted relying on themselves instead of God.
A True Leader
The true leaders who fall into the latter category should weep bitterly and become transparent. Be exposed. Don’t get me wrong, all should repent, but the true leader would be like Peter;
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” [Jesus] said to him, “Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” (John 21:15-18)
A Word to Our Shepherds
Christ, by asking Peter 3 times about his love, undid the thrice denial that had been done, and showed Peter how to Shepherd. Feed the lambs the Way, tend to them with the Truth, Feed the sheep life. Do what Jesus did. As leaders, whether you are a Priest, a Bishop, a Cardinal or a Pope, you have the ability to heal, or to crush someone’s spirit. Your job is to lead to heaven. Lead us. Even if it takes you in this world where you don’t want to go; because the alternative is harmful to your own soul, and to ours. And Mercy wants heaven for you. Mercy wants heaven for all of us, if only we would humble ourselves and listen.