Tuesday of Holy Week

In today’s Gospel passage at the Last Supper, Jesus shows Judas to be his betrayer.  And Peter promises to lay down his life for Jesus.  Something that he could not do initially but would do many years later.

Did Jesus condemn Peter for the three-fold denial of Jesus that he would make?   No, he simply left him to himself to see his own weakness. 

Peter was convinced that he could do more than he could on his own.  He was trying to assert his own desires upon the situation rather than following the Lord’s lead.  Jesus just left him to see that he was not capable of what he had promised…not by his own power anyway. 

Sometimes God does that in our own prayer lives.  Many times, God gives us consolations which bring courage, strength, delight, and often peace.  But other times, God leaves us to our own powers without removing the sufficient grace needed.  In these times of desolation, we often lose our sense of peace, our fervor, and our sense of God’s love.

Why does God do that?  We can compare this to a parent that gradually starts to let their child work through their distress rather than immediately picking them up or even giving them a treat.  It is necessary for the child’s maturity to learn to work through those things on their own. 

In much the same way, there are times that God leaves us seemingly alone.  These times reveal our personal weakness, emphasize our dependence on God, and allow us to resist the “various agitations and temptations of the enemy” as Saint Ignatius of Loyola says.  We do so with divine help that always remains with us, although it is often not initially felt.

Peter recognized his own weakness.  He sought forgiveness for his failure.  He came to grow in his dependence on the Lord.  He matured spiritually.

We too will find times when we are seemingly on our own spiritually.  May we learn to prepare for these times by shoring up our own points of weakness.  May we learn to step back and recognize what is happening when it does happen.  May we know of God’s sufficient grace in these times.  And may we seek to immediately confront and resist this desolation through perseverance in prayer and appropriate penance.  Through this effort, we will mature spiritually.  And in time…in God’s time…God will return us to spiritual consolation.