Take a moment to savour the image above. It’s Peter on his way to the tomb of Jesus on the morning of the resurrection.
What do you notice in the image?
I’ve used it before. It’s one of my favourite pictures, and every time I savour it I notice something different.
Today I noticed the sense of haste conveyed by the artist showing the wind-swept hair of Peter (and John in front of him) indicating them running at great speed to see for themselves if what the women told them was true. Is the tomb really empty? Has Jesus really broken through the death barrier?
And I notice too the gaze in Peter’s eyes. Peter, the one who just a few weeks before had given the ultimate confession of faith “You are the Christ.”
Peter’s gaze, of eager anticipation, excitement, and nervousness that if the news brought by the women was correct he would have to face the one he had let down.
But in today’s gospel we are a few months before the suffering and death of Jesus. Peter knew the talk about town regarding Jesus: “some say you are…” But when Jesus presses Peter for a personal, heart-felt confession of love the hapless often helpless Peter doesn’t hesitate: “You are the Christ.”
Of course Peter will go on to deny Jesus. Peter is all over the place. But then so am I when it comes to what and who and when I follow.
I often turn to Pope Benedict’s three volume gospel commentary “Jesus of Nazareth” when I seek to get inside the mind and heart of Jesus’ words and actions. I add excerpts from his reflection below. You might find them helpful.
A sneak preview…with a request
- These daily Lockdown reflections will conclude this Sunday 26 September. Then, after a few days break, on Friday 1 October I will offer brief daily reflections on the Rosary (October is remembered as the “Month of the Rosary”) as an ecumenical prayer, taking one set of the four Mysteries each week. We often think of the Rosary as a bit of an old-fashioned prayer, but I will present the Rosary as an active engagement with central events in the life of Jesus and his disciples. On Sunday of each week I will introduce the Mystery (Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, Glorious) and Monday – Friday of that week we will reflect on each of the five decades. It is an ambitious project, but I sense the opportunity for a step in faith for Food For Faith here. More information on Sunday with info on how you can sign up to receive these daily October reflections and accompanying Rosary podcast.
- Until then here’s how you can help: I need recordings of you, your household, your family, school group, friends, prayer group, praying one decade of the Rosary – beginning with Our Father, the ten Hail Marys, Glory Be and concluding with O My Jesus… That’s all. I’d love to have a diversity of people, groups, ages etc to use for the project. So could you in the next two or three days make a recording on your phone and send to me at email@example.com. Feel free to attach a photo of your group if you would like to but that is not essential. I appreciate your help with this – I think you might like the result!
though clearly Marian in character,
is at heart a Christocentric prayer.
In the sobriety of its elements,
it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety,
of which it can be said to be a compendium.
It is an echo of the prayer of Mary,
her perennial Magnificat
for the work of the redemptive Incarnation
which began in her virginal womb.
With the Rosary,
the Christian people
sits at the school of Mary
and is led to contemplate the beauty
on the face of Christ
and to experience the depths of his love.”
John Paul II
Pope Emeritus Benedict reflecting on Peter’s Confession of Faith in Jesus of Nazareth – From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration.
“Here we may identify the interior location of Jesus’ two-fold question. His enquiry about the opinion of the people and the conviction of the disciples presupposes two things. One one hand, there is an eternal knowledge of Jesus that, while not necessarily false, is inadequate. On the other hand. there is a deeper knowledge that is linked to discipleship, to participation in Jesus’ way, and such knowledge can grow only in that context…”
The opinions about who others say Jesus is “are not simply mistaken; they are greater or lesser approximations to the mystery of Jesus, and they can certainly set us on the path toward Jesus’ real identity. But they do not arrive at Jesus’ identity, at his newness. They interpret him in terms of the past. in terms of the predictable and the possible, not in terms of himself, his uniqueness, which cannot be assigned to any other category. Today, too. similar opinions are clearly held by the “people” who have somehow or other come to know Christ, who have perhaps even made a scholarly study of him, but have not encountered Jesus himself in his utter uniqueness and otherness…”
“…Today it is fashionable to regard Jesus as one of the great religious founders who were granted a profound experience of God. They can thus speak of God to other people who have been denied this “religious disposition” as it were, drawing them into their own experience of God. However, we are still dealing here with a human experience of God. that reflects his finite reality in the finitude and limitation of a human spirit: It can therefore never amount to more than a partial, not to mention time- and space-bound, translation of the divine. The word experience thus indicates on one hand a real contact with the divine, while also acknowledging the limitation of the receiving subject, Every human subject can capture only a particular fragment of the reality that there is to be perceived, and this fragment then requires further interpretation. Someone who holds this opinion can certainly love Jesus; he can even choose him as a guide for his own life. Ultimately, thought. this notion of Jesus’ experience of God” remains purely relative and needs to be supplemented by the fragments of reality perceived by other great men….standing in marked contrast to the opinion of the people is the “recognition” of the disciples, which expresses itself in acknowledgment, in confession.”
Peter & John Running to the Tomb on the Morning of the Resurrection