St Mark’s Lenten Thoughts: Wednesday in Holy Week

Adam Elsheimer, The Denial of Peter, from 1600 until 1605

Holy Week—Wednesday

Isaiah 50:4-9a Psalm 70 Hebrews 12:1-3 John 13:21-32

As we approach Good Friday every year, my mood becomes somber. It is hard, in the middle of Holy Week, to feel the excitement of the Resurrection when the Cross looms between us and Easter morning. In the Gospel reading for today, it is clear that Jesus feels it, too. In the previous Gospel reading (John 12:20-36), Jesus speaks of his “troubled soul” as he alludes to his impending death. Time is running out to persuade the crowd of his message to surrender their lives to God in order to save them. Now, it is the last supper, and once again, Jesus is troubled in spirit. For all his teaching, one of his own disciples is going to betray him, and the uncertainty of the others betrays their realization that it could be any one of them. On that night, it would be Judas, the next day, it would be Peter. What is that song? “You Only Hurt the One You Love?” Fr. Mike Marsh observes that we can only betray those “who have given themselves over to us.”∗ And in betraying Jesus, we are betraying ourselves. We do exactly what the lessons of this Lent have been warning us about. We betray our lives to death, love of others to self-interest, and hope to despair. Again and again throughout these forty days we’ve read that surrendering to God is the source of true happiness and eternal life. Like Peter, we sometimes fail, but then, like the thief we can surrender and pray, O Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.

Laura McLemore

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