On a daily basis, we make promises to one another and ourselves. Some of these impactful promises are choices of how we will live as members of our society and these seemingly small choices can have greater social implications. In today’s Gospel, Peter promises Jesus, “I will lay down my life for you,” but Jesus quickly replies with his knowledge that Peter will deny him three times. Peter has made a choice to commit himself to a cause and a relationship that he believes in, but he is eventually unable to keep that promise.
In reading this Gospel passage, I am reminded of all the times, like Peter, that I have broken promises in fear of social or cultural injury. How many times have I behaved in certain ways or supported certain systems that go against these promises? How have I protected myself rather than stand up for what I know to be right? How can I claim justice and peace for all yet act in ways and support and benefit from systems that marginalize and harm others?
Jesus is not scorning Peter for his future failings but warning him that they will occur. Preparing him, he is shattering Peter’s perception of perfectionism and providing him with a realistic outlook. Jesus teaches us that while we are sure to fail, as is the human way, we must keep trying. For Jesus says, “You cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.” This is good advice for people like me who are repeatedly disappointed with our own failings. If we are able to approach these struggles with the knowledge that we are imperfect and weighed down by our own baggage, we may begin to lighten our burdens and fears of failure to make room to slowly fulfill those promises.
Campus Ministry Intern