As we enter into Holy Week, we again hear the Gospel of the Lord's Passion on Palm Sunday. It could be very easy for us to go on auto-pilot during this reading because it so familiar to us, but as I listen to the words from the Gospel of Mark this year, the person who stands out to me is the disciple, Peter.
The most headstrong of Jesus' disciples, falls asleep three different times after Jesus asks him to keep watch and pray. Peter then runs away as Jesus is arrested and led off to the the high priest. We then hear that "Peter followed him at a distance" to the high priest courtyard and awaits to see what happens to his friend. When Peter is confronted by some bystanders and accused of knowing Jesus, he denies that he knows Him three times. In a short period of time,
Peter falls asleep when Jesus is in anguish, abandons Jesus when He is arrested, keeps his distance from Him as He is falsely accused and then denies Him when others ask about Him.
While it may be easy to look down on Peter for all of these actions, I think this Gospel is instead a reminder to each of us that, we are Peter. How often do we focus and succumb to our own needs as Peter did when he falls asleep? How often do we choose to run away from doing what is right? How often do we follow Jesus at a distance? How often do we deny that we know Jesus by our words and actions? We are Peter!!! And while dwelling on those actions could cause us to weep as Peter did, we don't have to choose despair, because we are offered Holy Week.
Holy Week offers us the opportunity to prepare our hearts by seeking the mercy and love of Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, following Jesus' example of service and receiving His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist on Holy Thursday and praying and placing ourselves, our joys and sorrows, at the foot of the Cross on Good Friday.
If we allow ourselves to truly experience this Holy Week, we too will find ourselves running, as Peter did, to find out the Good News of Easter.