PENSIONANTE DEI SARACENI (active in Rome 1610-1620)
OIL-PAINTING ON CANVAS - Vatican Museum
Peter denies Jesus
V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world
From the Gospel according to Luke 22:54-62
Peter followed at a distance;
and when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard
and sat down together, Peter sat among them.
Then a maid, seeing him as he sat in the light and gazing at him, said,
"This man also was with him."
But he denied it, saying, "Woman, I do not know him."
And a little later some one else saw him and said, "You also are one of them."
But Peter said, "Man, I am not."
And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying,
"Certainly this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean."
But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are saying."
And immediately, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed.
And the Lord turned and looked at Peter.
And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him,
"Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times."
And he went out and wept bitterly.
Of the fleeing disciples, two come back,
following at a distance the mob and its prisoner.
Affection mixed with curiosity, perhaps; an unawareness of the risks.
It is not long before Peter is recognized:
his Galilean accent traps him
as does the testimony of those who saw him draw his sword on the Mount of Olives.
Peter hides in a lie: he denies everything.
He does not realize that in this way he is denying his Lord,
he is contradicting his own forceful declarations of absolute fidelity.
He does not understand that in this way he is rejecting his own identity.
But a cock crows, the Lord turns,
he looks squarely at Peter and the crowing takes on meaning.
Peter understands and bursts out weeping.
Bitter tears, but sweetened by the recollection of Jesus' words:
"I did not come to judge but to save" (Jn 12:47).
Now they are repeated by that glance of "mercy and grace",
the same glance of the Father, "slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love",
who "does not deal with according to our sins,
nor requite us according to our iniquities" (Ps 103:8,10).
Peter sinks deeply into that glance.
On Easter morning
Peter's tears will be tears of joy.
Jesus, the only hope of those who, weak and injured, fall;
you know what is in every person (Jn 2:25).
Our frailty increases your love
and prompts your forgiveness.
Help us, in the light of your mercy, to recognize our missteps
and, saved by your love,
to proclaim the marvels of your grace.
Grant that those who exercise authority over their brothers and sisters
may take pride not in having been chosen, but rather in their weakness
by reason of which your strength resides in them (2 Cor 12:9).
your turning to look at Peter
causes bitter tears of repentance,
a river of peace of a new baptism.
R/. To you be praise and glory for ever.