A Catholic Reflection on Peter’s Denial of Jesus

Yesterday I promised a couple of posts on the new commentary on the Gospel of John from the newest entry in the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture series. After many of the passages this series contains a “Reflection and Application” section which offer rich devotional material. Here is one such reading after Peter’s denial of Jesus (John 18:15-27). I was especially encouraged by it.

“John 18 gives us a sad account of Peter’s denial of Jesus. Since we have all been unfaithful to Jesus, we should see some reflection of ourselves in Peter (Catechism 1851). Peter wanted to follow Jesus as a disciple (6:68), learned from him, ate at the Last Supper with him, and insisted that he would follow Jesus even to death (13:37). Yet despite his best efforts and intentions, Peter fails miserably when forced to choose in a difficult situation. Since the number three often symbolizes completeness, Peter completely disavows Jesus. Whenever we sin, we act just like Peter: we deny Jesus by our sinful thoughts, words, and deeds.

The example of Peter can be a healthy warning for us not to underestimate our own weaknesses and the lingering effects of original sin. Warming himself by the fire with the guards who arrested Jesus’ opponents, pressure Peter over his relationship with Jesus. We must be careful not to put ourselves into situations where we will be pressured to sin and deny our relationship with Jesus.

The older form of the Roman Holy Week Liturgy subtly presented Judas and Peter as two traitors and then leads us to recognize ourselves as traitors with a choice: repent like Peter or give up like Judas and despair of mercy. As we shall see with Peter, God’s mercy is infinitely greater than the worst of our sins. God is always ready to forgive those who return to him.” (pp. 296-97)



About Louis

I am a 1997 graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
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