Gospel (John 13:21-33, 36-38)
Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, "Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me." The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant. One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus' side. So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. He leaned back against Jesus' chest and said to him, "Master, who is it?" Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it." So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him. So Jesus said to him, "What you are going to do, do quickly." Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him, "Buy what we need for the feast," or to give something to the poor. So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night. When he had left, Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, 'Where I go you cannot come,' so now I say it to you." Simon Peter said to him, "Master, where are you going?" Jesus answered him, "Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later." Peter said to him, "Master, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you." Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times."
“Master why can I not follow you now?
I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.” (Jn 13: 37-38)
Have you ever been in a situation where you would have to give up your life for someone else? I remember when my husband and I took our sons fishing off of the barrier islands off the coast of Mississippi. It was fun to fish from the shore of the island and for the children a fun place to explore if they got bored fishing.
We liked going to the northernmost island with the lighthouse. On the northern side of the island the water was very shallow, but the southern side was deep and the currents were swift. Since the hull of our boat was a V shape and could not safely venture in the shallows without becoming grounded, we would have to anchor the boat on the deep side as close to the island as we could. This meant we would have to jump into the water and wade to the shore of the island. Our children were young about ages 8, 6, and 4.
My husband jumped into the water first to check the depth and the current. Then one by one he carried the children to the shore. Before he came to help me and to carry the youngest to shore, I notice a fin at the surface near the boat. My husband started to come and I called out and told him to wait, because I saw a fin. So he stopped. We both watched the water. Then we saw it again and it wasn’t a dolphin which we hoped it would be. It was a small shark about 3-4 feet long. It was chasing fish. It was feeding which is not a good time for us to be in the water.
I decided to just stay in the boat while they fished from shore. As I was watching from the boat I began to think, what if my husband or one of the children would try to swim back to the boat and the shark attacked them. Would I have the courage to jump in and save them? Could I overcome my fear of being bitten in order to get them to safety? I could feel my heart racing. Would I be a coward and just watch them getting attacked by a shark?
This dilemma reminded me of the conversation that Jesus had with St. Peter the night of the last supper. “Why can I not follow you now? I would lay down my life for you. Jesus answered , “Amen, amen, I say to you the cock will not crow before you deny me three times. ”(John 13:37-38). I feel St. Peter really thought he could die for Jesus, because he dearly loved him. Yet when it came to acknowledge that he was Jesus’ disciple, he allowed fear to overwhelm him. As Jesus predicted he would not only deny knowing Jesus once, but three times.
Would I be like St. Peter? Would I give into fear? I love my children and husband and I would die for them. What will I do?
When it came time for my husband and the two children to return to the boat? I was anxious about them swimming to the boat. It was high tide and the water was deeper. My husband had a solution. He asked me to tie a dock rope to the stern boat cleat and throw him the rope. I did as he suggested and tossed him the end of the rope. Slowly my husband pulled the back of the boat toward him and closer to shore. The two children could hop onto the swim platform on the stern and got into the boat, then my husband jumped on. I was so relieved. We were all safe.
Now I wonder if I would die for my faith. Would I die for Jesus? Would you die for Jesus?