Sunday, November 10, 2013

we have forgotten how to weep


Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him, 
"Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times." 
He broke down and wept.
--Mark, leaving no detail undescribed in depicting Peter's woeful condition

Caravaggio's Denial of Peter


If there's one story in the Bible that should make us weep, it is the story of Peter's denial of Christ.
It is the reason why at I am writing a blog post at 5:30 AM instead of sleeping.
I am sitting on the shaggy purple rug of my bedroom, and as I go through each account of Peter's denial (because all four of his colleagues for some reason found it necessary to speak about. His poor reputation was shredded to bits), new tears well up in my eyes at each reading.
I am remembering how to cry.
We ought to cry; our tear ducts should be exhausted with weeping.
We should weep for Peter. Poor, weak, Peter.
He knew that he was weak; and yet even the knowledge of his own weakness, not even the armor of self-awareness, could keep him from falling prey to his weakness.
Oh, Peter. Poor, poor Peter.
It is shame for us if we hear his story and do not weep.
He has betrayed the very person that gives his life meaning.
Without the being he has turned his back upon, his identity will be confused and distorted.
And yet, Peter perversely insists on giving into fear.
He allows his strength to dissolve into inconstancy.

We ought to weep for Peter at the very moment after the cock crows, and he bursts into tears.
For that is the moment that is the most horrible of all moments.
The moment right after the sin, when you have finally returned to your senses, and you cry; that is the saddest and most terrible of moments.
You cry because you wish you had found a magic eraser that could blot out what you've done. You cry, because you were so ridiculously stupid as to deny your Lord and Savior.
Why did you do that? You love Him, you journeyed with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem and back again.
You, you alone of all your brothers, you and Martha alone have the conviction and courage to say: you are the Christ. The Son of the living God.
No one else has a love so true or a Faith so lucid as yours.
And so, you cry, because as soon as it was done, you knew it should not to have been.
You feel sobs rack your body as you can already feel the evil you ought not to do eating slightly away at you.

I often wonder if those Gospel accounts would have caused Peter much chagrin.
No sin is ever private, for each little transgression committed in the private of our hearts moves us one step closer to turning us inward on ourselves, making ourselves our own god.
But some sins happen in the darkness, but some happen around the open flames of a courtyard fire.
I wonder if Peter bit his tongue every time someone spoke of that particular account, wishing to leap to his own defense, but knowing that anything he said was going to be insignificant.

As the cock crowed, Peter must have felt the weight and pain of his sin so deeply.
The insincerity of what he did must have choked him.
How cruel the weight of his sin; how dreadful the burden it laid on him; and how pitiable the tears that spring up with the transgression re-remembered. 

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