Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Peter: Rock? Or Stumbling Block?

While he was at the table with his disciples, Jesus became visibly upset, and told them what was troubling him: “One of you is about to betray me.”

The disciples looked around at each other, wondering what he meant. One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved dearly, was leaning against him, his head on Jesus’ shoulder. Peter motioned to him to find out who Jesus was talking about. So, being so close, he whispered, “Master, who is it?” Jesus answered, “The one I give the morsel of matzo to after I’ve dipped it.” Then he dipped the morsel, and gave it to Judas. At that moment, Satan entered into him.

“Go, do what you have to do,” Jesus said. “Do it, and do it quickly!”

No one at the supper table knew why he had said that to Judas. Some of them thought that, because he held the money bag, Jesus was sending out to buy what was needed for the Feast, or that he might be offering something to the poor. Judas took the morsel, consumed it, and left at once. By now, the night was dark.

After Judas left, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is to be glorified, and God is glorified in him. Boys, I won’t be with you for very much longer. You are going to look high and low for me, but, as I told the Jews, I’m telling you “Where I am going, you cannot come.”

Simon Peter asked, "Master, just where are you going?"

Jesus answered, "You can't now follow me where I'm going. You will follow later."

"Master," said Peter, "why can't I follow now? I'll lay down my life for you!"

“Is that so? You'll lay down your life for me? The truth is that before the rooster crows, you'll deny me three times." (John 13: 21-33, 36-38)

“We have grown accustomed to making a clear distinction between Peter the Rock, and Peter the one who denied Christ. The denier of Christ is Peter before Easter; the Rock is Peter after Pentecost. That is the singularly idealistic picture we have constructed of Peter. But, in reality, he was at times both of these.

“Has it not been this way throughout the history of the Church, that the Pope, the successor of Peter, has been at one Petra and Scandalon – the rock, and the stumbling block? In fact, the faithful will always have to reckon with this paradox of the divine dispensation that shames their pride again and again.”  (Pope Benedict XVI)

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