Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion
The greatness of Jesus
…Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley … So Judas got a band of soldiers … with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.” He said to them, “I AM.” Judas his betrayer was also with them. When he said to them, “I AM,” they turned away and fell to the ground. So he again asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They said, “Jesus the Nazorean.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I AM. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.”… Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear … Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?” So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus, bound him, and brought him to Annas… the father-in-law of Caiaphas… Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus… Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter, “You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire … and were warming themselves. Peter was also standing there keeping warm. Jn 18,1-18
The today gospel is quite vivacious: Judas, who, escorted by militias, comes to capture Jesus; the fall to the ground of the soldiers; the contradictions of Peter, who first draws his sword to defend the Master and then, in front of the maid who was the gatekeeper, denies to be his disciple. Judas appears and disappears quickly from the scene; the soldiers, accustomed to see people fleeing to avoid to be caught, fall dazzled to the ground; Peter, obedient, sheathes his sword, even without understanding what chalice his Master should drink. At the heart of these events the kingship and the greatness of Jesus shine. Particularly striking is the diversity of his answer to the soldiers from that of Peter to the maid: “Whom are you looking for?”. They answered him: “Jesus the Nazorean”. He said to them: ” I AM.” And the young maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter: “Are not you one of this man’s disciples, are you?”. He said: “I am not”. Today, the Lord teaches us how a “leader” has to act in front of the responsibilities: “I told you that I AM. So if you are looking for me, let these men go”. From where does such greatness come? Certainly from the faith, from the communion with the Father, by the prayer and the education received from Mary and Joseph. But we believe that the main reason is the deep awareness of having a mission to be accomplished and the clarity on how to do it. Even Peter, who now looks very small, when, after Pentecost, has acquired the full understanding of his mission, will become the courageous witness of the gospel and, finally, he will accept with joy to die on the cross. Most remarkably, upside down, because he will not feel worthy of dying like the Master.