Holy Week, Triduum, Easter — it’s been a lot to reflect on this year, and a whirlwind of emotions. Our Lord was marched into town like a King, captured, beaten, tortured, killed, GONE, and then risen. And we didn’t get to participate in any of it in the way we normally would. I wonder if this is how the apostles felt: scared, uncertain, and unable to do anything.
Well, everyone but Peter. Peter seems to bust into a lot of the readings within the Triduum and Easter and assert himself as a main character, with his bold accusations and righteous anger. I love Peter, I feel akin to him. When Jesus tries to wash his feet, Peter is so dramatic: “Lord, You will never wash my feet.” Can you imagine telling the Lord you will never let Him do something for you? My gut reaction is, “No, I would never tell my Lord that.” But, I do it every day! I believe other things or other people will do things and fulfill things for me that only my Savior can fulfill.
Then Peter goes to the opposite extreme: “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” And Jesus basically says, dude calm down! “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed…” Peter can’t just listen to the small promptings, it seems. He must go above and beyond what Christ is asking — which is impossible.
What Peter doesn’t understand at first is the deeper meaning behind the simple actions Jesus is asking for. At the end of the reading Jesus says, “If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow…” See, Peter? It isn’t about clean feet and hands, it’s about service to others. Jesus often has to put Peter in his place and bring him out of his own head to show him what He really means. And boy oh boy does Jesus have to do the same to me.
If the story ended here, we would probably think of Peter as a punk. But we know the end of this story: Jesus rises from the dead and then He raises Peter, from the shame of denying Jesus to his place as Rock and Shepherd. Over a charcoal fire Peter is given the chance to affirm his love of Jesus, not once but three times. Unlike Judas, who gave in to despair, Peter answers the call to repentance and restoration.
I’ll admit, I don’t always answer that call like I should. Sometimes I think, “He won’t take me back this time, I’ve failed too may times.” But who am I to think that my sin is more powerful than the Almighty’s ability to forgive me and love me? Jesus can turn anything into something beautiful. I just have to keep being like Peter.