Tuesday, March 30, 1999
Purple or violet vestments
First Reading: Isaiah 49:1-6
Psalms: Psalm 71: 1-6, 15, 17
Gospel Reading: John 13: 21-33, 36-38
TUESDAY OF HOLY WEEK
The tale of two Apostles who both denied Christ
The Gospel for this day, from John, treats the two Apostles who denied Christ. One, of course was Judas Iscariot who swiftly left the Last Supper room to do his dastardly deed and ultimately despaired for the evil one had so greatly possessed him as John points out so poignantly in verse 27 when the Evangelist writes, "And after the morsel, satan entered into him." The other is Simon Peter. Always the inquisitive one, Peter presses Our Lord as to who is the one who will betray him. He even pledges his loyalty so boldly that he swears he will follow Jesus wherever He goes. Jesus knows only too well Peter's weaknesses and prophesizes in John 13: 38, "Amen, amen, I say to thee, the cock will not crow before thou dost deny me thrice."
Incredulous, Peter truly believes this will never happen, but alas we all know it did. We also know Peter went on to become the Rock Jesus had intended in founding His One True, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. What was the difference between the two? Besides character, one asked for forgiveness and resolved to amend his ways just as the Good Thief Dismas also did as he was clinging to life on the cross with Christ; the other despaired, too proud to come in humility and ask to be reconciled. Judas' actions were also paralleled by the Bad Thief who hung there scorning Jesus and deriding Dismas.
How many times have we denied Christ? Oh, true, they were small, but they build up. As Catholics we have the saving grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But we cannot abuse it. We can't feel it is a convenient outlet to just wipe away the same sins we intend to commit again. No, we must make a commitment to sin no more as the priest commands at the end of Confession. Sure, because we are human, we will sin again...but it is not a will to sin, but our weakness that we fall. The shame is in staying in sin, refusing to get up. There is no shame in falling and rising again, asking forgiveness. Jesus is always there to help us, just as He was there to forgive Peter He was there to forgive Judas, but the Iscariot did not respond. Will we respond when we fail? Will we come running to the Merciful Heart begging for Mercy? Our Lady assures us of being forgiven and begs us to go to Confession often, at least once a month and more if possible. The more we take advantage of this wonderful Sacrament, the more we realize the graces inherent and the protective shell we can build around our soul and lifestyle to keep satan out. Like Peter, we too, have been chosen. Like Peter, we too, have fallen and will fall again. Like Peter, we can rely on the Holy Spirit to instill the Gifts that will enable us to continue joyfully on the way to Calvary as we eagerly repeat the words of the Psalmist in today's Psalm 71: 3 - 4, "Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for You are my Rock and my Fortress. O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked."