John 13:21-33, 36-38
The Evangelist, John, tells of the inner soul of Jesus at the Last Supper. "He loved his own in the world and loved them to the end." This becomes evident in every word spoken and every gesture of friendship. Our text reveals the loving concern Jesus showed to his bold, brash vicar, Peter. Jesus persuades Peter to allow Jesus to wash his feet. After the meal he warns Peter of the crisis ahead and even as his tells Peter he will deny ever knowing Jesus, he has a word of comfort. Peter will recover, regain his composure and his loyalty and become the Rock of support for those who would so soon take to flight.
With that solemn supper, the great drama of redemption was opening. The villain, Satan, was exulting over his success with Judas and counting on crushing Peter and his companions beneath his feet. That proud personification of evil could not comprehend that his proud arrogance would be crushed by the humiliation of the very Son of God!
The Divine Mind does not strain in governing galaxies and their billions of stars, that Divine Mind and the human love of Jesus turned fully on one frail human being, Peter, called to be Rock. The words of Jesus in the Upper Room were loving and gentle. His glance at Peter even as the cock crowed had the warmth to melt Peter’s heart and cause his rush of tears.
Jesus acts the same way with us. He well knows our weakness and has come to our aid in so many ways. Our baptism unites us with his death and the power of his resurrection. In every Mass he offers himself for us and nourishes us with his Body and Blood. He embraces us in our encounter with him in Reconciliation. Jesus loved Peter to the end. He does the same for us!
Fr. Fred Sucher, C.P. is retired and lives in the Passionist community in Chicago. For many years he taught philosophy to Passionist seminarians.