When he had said this, Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered. Judas his betrayer also knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards from the chief priests and the Pharisees and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, "Whom are you looking for?" They answered him, "Jesus the Nazorean." He said to them, "I AM." Judas his betrayer was also with them. When he said to them, "I AM," they turned away and fell to the ground. So he again asked them, "Whom are you looking for?" They said, "Jesus the Nazorean." Jesus answered, "I told you that I AM. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill what he had said, "I have not lost any of those you gave me." Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest´s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave´s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?" So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus, bound him, and brought him to Annas first. He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews that it was better that one man should die rather than the people. Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Now the other disciple was known to the high priest, and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus. But Peter stood at the gate outside. So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest, went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in. Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter, "You are not one of this man´s disciples, are you?" He said, "I am not." Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire that they had made, because it was cold, and were warming themselves. Peter was also standing there keeping warm. The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his doctrine. Jesus answered, "I have spoken openly to the world; I have always taught in synagogues and in the Temple, where all the Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said to them; they know what I said." When he had said this, one of the police standing nearby struck Jesus on the face, saying, "Is that how you answer the high priest?" Jesus answered, "If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong. But if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?" Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, "You are not also one of his disciples, are you?" He denied it and said, "I am not." One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, "Did I not see you in the garden with him?" Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed. (John 18:1-19)
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, Good Friday is the day when you conquered sin by your death on the cross. You showed your mercy to be indestructible. The more the offenses thrown against you, the greater the forgiveness that came from your Sacred Heart. Thank you, Lord, for your humble, generous gift of yourself amidst such terrible suffering. I wish to accompany you closely today in your Passion. I wish to know you and to follow you more closely all the days of my life.
Petition: Lord, convince my heart that you truly died out of personal love for me.
1. The Affirmation: “I AM”. These are the courageous words of Christ before the cohort of soldiers sent to apprehend him in the garden of Gethsemane. They are the same words that God used to describe himself to Moses on Mt. Sinai. They are the words that have been used in Christian thought to refer to the Creator of all existing things. They are words in which Christ recognizes and proclaims his divinity before the soldiers. For this reason, they turned around and fell to the ground. As we meditate on Christ’s Passion, let us remember his divinity. He is my God and he is my Savior.
2. The Denial: “I am not.” These words of Peter stand in stark contrast to the words proclaiming Christ’s divinity. We could say that they represent all that is weak and fragile in man, expressed through the mouth of St. Peter. Unlike Christ in the garden, Peter stands by a warm fire and responds to a young servant girl. He denies being a follower of Christ and, in doing so, confirms his own weakness and his need for God’s grace and mercy. We should identify with Peter and recognize our need for Christ’s sacrifice. When “I Am Not”? When do I let my human fragility get the better of me and pull me down? What do I need to do to avoid the pitfalls in my life and be a more faithful follower of Christ?
3. Out of Love for Me: This Gospel scene juxtaposes Peter’s denial and Christ’s sentence to death. Even though Christ’s death would have happened without Peter’s denial, what was its effect on Our Lord? Jesus was dying for Peter and all people in order to save us from our sins. Peter’s lack of faith and love did not change that. But when he turned again and believed, he recognized that Jesus had done it all for him, and from then on he proclaimed it far and wide. May the Lord help us to realize that Christ sees all of our actions and they either console him or add to the pain of so many infidelities. We need to work steadily to build a second nature within ourselves so that in moments of temptation our heart turns first to Jesus, considers the offense we might cause him and then our will kicks in to reject doing wrong and thus please Our Lord and Savior.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, as I contemplate your loving self-giving on Good Friday, I ask you to fill my heart with a deeper knowledge and love of you. All of my infidelities and weaknesses contribute to what you have suffered. You did it out of love for me and for each one of my brothers and sisters. Thank you.
Resolution:I resolve to ask for the personal experience of Christ’s love today, especially when considering his passion and death.