The woman said to Peter, “You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.”
Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, “You are not also one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” 26 One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with him?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.
John 18:17, 25-27
History. There it is: stark, sure, heavy with reality, freighted with consequence. Here in these verses part of Peter’s life is writ forever in time, never to be altered, never to disappear.
That truth could be the doom and damnation of all of us were it not for the equally durable and unchangeable fact of redemption, the strange and unreasonable truth of the capacity to build good and better lives on bad history.
The third chapter of Genesis records the startling and far reaching mutation of the history of God’s creation: we left the paradise of perfection for the mystery of morality. The mystery of choice, freedom, consequence, responsibility and redemption. We can’t undo history. It is gone. But it can be redeemed. Good can come out of it. What is ugly and despicable can be redeemed into honesty and the opportunity for new relationships.
It is on Good Friday when God’s hand seized evil and shaped it into ultimate good. It is an awesome alchemy by which God empowers us to make new lives out of failed efforts. It is what we understand from all those Gospel imperatives that summon us to the future: repent, believe, take up, come, and follow me.
Peter’s tears of sorrow will wonder of wonders, be made a fountain of new life. God will fashion out of this wreckage of denial a new life of grace and power. That is why we dare to call this Friday “good.”
The Rev. Dr. Luis León
Appointed readings for today: Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Psalm 22, John 18:1-19:42