Fr. Francis Scaria

Smiley face Have you ever wondered what really happened to Peter that he denied Jesus? In fact in the garden of Gethsemane he showed a lot of courage. When a big crowd came to arrest Jesus, he courageously took out his sword and cut the ear of the servant of the High Priest. So we cannot simply dismiss him as a coward. He was probably the most courageous among the twelve. Now the question arises : If he was so courageous to attack the servant of the high priest in the Garden, how come he denied Jesus at the house of the high priest, in front the maid servants? Where did his courage vanish?

My reflection leads me to think that Peter probably believed in victory through fighting but Jesus reprimanded him for it. Jesus wanted him to be victorious through suffering. In the field of fighting he was probably an expert and he would do that courageously, but in the field of suffering he was nervous and weak. All of us are confident in our own field of expertise, but we get nervous when we are in a strange field. There are different types of warfare. Warfare also varies according to the terrain. Fighting in the mountainous regions would be different from fighting in plains. Fighting at the sea is different from fighting in the land. Fighting terrorists is different from fighting ordinary soldiers. Fighting pirates is yet another kind.

We often forget that suffering is a great battlefield. In the battlefield of suffering weapons required are faith, courage, endurance and perseverance. Jesus fought in the battlefield of suffering and proved himself to be the greatest hero the world has ever seen. All through his public life he faced opposition from the mighty and the powerful. But he never surrendered to them. He stood unmistakably for the Kingdom of truth, justice and peace. In the last battle he was inflicted the most cruel of all sufferings. The sadistic creativity of the Roman soldiers found the most heinous expressions in the sufferings of Jesus. He bore it all, rather he fought it all. His whole body was lacerated with wounds, and the heart much more. Finally the nails pierced through his hands and legs. At the end of the whole battle the victory was proclaimed: “it is finished”.

This is a battlefield where many of us lose our courage and come out as cowards. This battle calls for greater courage and undying optimism. The ‘mahatma’ of our proud history, Gandhiji, had them in abundance and we know how he succeeded in obtaining independence for us. The greatest battles in the world have not only been ‘non-violent’, but also full of suffering. The biographies of the greatest personalities of the world in which we live have been tales of great suffering.

Do I realize that my sickbed is a great battlefield and with the trust in the Lord and with endurance I can win that battle? For someone a wedlock may be a battleground. May be with a little more of understanding and tolerance the battle can be won. We have to learn to become courageous fighters.

Peter denied not once or twice, but three times. See how miserably he failed. It only shows that most of us are ill-equipped for this fight. It is an honour for a soldier to die in the field while fighting even if he is unable to see the day of victory. That is fighting to the end, offering everything for the battle. The most shameful act of a soldier is fleeing from the battlefield. Peter was running away from the battlefield already when Jesus foretold about his sufferings. Peter had said, “God forbid it. Lord, this must never happen to you” (Mt 16:22). Jesus rebuked him for it, “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me… ” (Mt 16:23). With the denials he went too far away. Yet he soon realized his folly and came back not only to acknowledge his love and commitment to the Lord, but to give himself like the Lord at least at the fourth chance. His earlier failures kept him humble to say that he was not worthy to be crucified like his Master and wanted his executioners to crucify him upside down. We are still in the battlefield. We need to learn this warfare in the school of Jesus.

MUSINGS : 1-25, 26-50, 51-75

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