The Denial of Peter And Judas

How often do we take advantage of God’s merciful nature to say one thing and do another? We intend to say that Rosary each morning, but, well, God will understand if I just stop at a Hail Mary. At least I did that! We promise that we will not gossip, but then let a tidbit out and rationalize that we are only venting to a friend. We race through our day and fail to appreciate a blue sky, a field of flowers, or a healthy child, only to complain if something inconveniences us. We tell little “white” lies, cheat when “no one” will get hurt, and give only out of our surplus.

Every time we choose not to follow His commands, we betray His love for us, and we deny His authority.

Sometimes we like to use the examples of Judas and Peter to justify our own sinfulness. “Well, if he did that, and Jesus still forgave Him, then I’m not that bad.” Judas, unfortunately, relied upon his own understanding, and turned completely away from God. Peter, on the other hand, repented and found His new life in Christ.

So you have a choice: Do you continue to justify your own understanding of how you should live your life and betray what Jesus has asked of you, or do you deny your pride and your “old” self to find your new life in Him? Are you a Judas or a Peter?

And in the end, would you rather die because you ran away from Christ, or die because you followed Him?

Make a list. How do you betray or deny God, even in the smallest way, by your words, actions, or omissions?

Lord, please grant me the grace to be morally courageous in every way, never denying You in my thoughts, words, actions or omissions.


After marrying her husband, Jim Roberts, in 1980, Cynthia Millen graduated from law school and practiced in Ohio for a short while. Excited about having a large family, Jim and Cindy were blessed more quickly than expected with the birth of five children in four years (two set of twins). Her love for reading and writing grew into the publication of several children’s books (under the name C. M. Millen), poems and short stories (including a 2014 Tuscany Prize winner). Millen earned her Masters in Literature from Trinity College, Dublin, and relishes the teaching (and learning) of reading, writing, and grammar with middle school students at Christ the King School in Toledo, Ohio. Most of all, she treasures attending Mass there with wonderful parishioners and truly marvelous priests. [This reflection is used by permission of]

Ss. Peter and Paul

Peter And Paul, Pillars Of The Church

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul. In 1999 St. John Paul II, in a homily for this feast, called Peter and Paul “pillars” of the Church. Yet we would be hard-pressed to find two different men.

Peter was a fisherman, married and working in the family business. He loved Christ; Peter was willing to follow Him because he knew Jesus was the Messiah. Peter jumped in with both feet, but he also stumbled every chance he got. He couldn’t quite reach out to Christ, who assured Him that Peter could, indeed, walk on water. Peter trembled, hid, and denied Jesus as the Passion of Christ played out. Yet, Peter was the one Jesus chose to lead the Church: You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church. (Mt. 16:18)

Paul was a man with a past. He even had a different identity: Saul. He was zealous – about ridding the world of this new religion that proclaimed the Messiah. He tormented Christians, and for this, God knocked him off his feet and blinded him. Saul takes on a new identity: Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles. Despite their differences, these two men, more than any others, shaped the early Church, spread the faith and became leaders in the name of Christ Jesus.

In a sermon in the year 395, St. Augustine of Hippo said of Saints Peter and Paul:

‘Both apostles share the same feast day, for these two were one; and even though they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, and Paul followed. And so we celebrate this day made holy for us by the apostles’ blood. Let us embrace what they believed, their life, their labors, their sufferings, their preaching, and their confession of faith.’

This feast tells us two things. First, we have two incredible men who are part of the “great cloud of witnesses,” and we should beg their intercession, as well as follow their examples of faith. The other thing we learn from this day is that God uses everyone, flaws and all. Christ chose a fisherman who couldn’t always be brave and a Jew who hated Christians to lead his Church. If these two men can find the strength to follow Christ, then so can we.

doubt faith

Doubt: “A Backpack Full Of Fear”

Who among us does not doubt God? Who among us has never thought, “He has abandoned me, just when I need Him most?” Or thought, “He isn’t real. I’m deceiving myself.”

Any believer who says they do not doubt lies. Oh, we may hide it. We may not speak about it. But we doubt.

We doubt like Peter, who could not believe that Jesus would make sure that stormy waters did not swallow him. We doubt like Thomas, who did not believe Christ truly rose from the dead. We doubt like those whose hearts were filled with evil when God commanded Noah to build an ark. We doubt like Pilate, who questioned, “What is truth?” when Truth itself was standing right in front of him.

Joseph Solomon is a young man who understands doubt. He knows the fear it brings, the anxiety. He knows what was in the heart of Peter and Thomas and Pilate, because he recognizes it in his own heart. But he also has an idea of what God says to that doubt and fear and anxiety. He shares his thoughts in this spoken word piece.


Betrayal, Despair And Salvation

Surely, it is not I, Lord?

Christ begins the Passover celebration with the Apostles by telling them that one of them will betray Him, their Lord and Master. There is denial and consternation among them: Surely, it is not I, Lord?

The Gospels clearly record Judas’ betrayal – selling out Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. We know, too, that Peter betrays Christ by denying he even knows Him, three times. Because the other ten Apostles were human, we know they betrayed Christ in some way. We betray Christ.

Sin is an ugly thing. It always damages relationships. Sometimes the slights are small: we are brusque with a co-worker or raise our voice to a small child. Other times, the sins are quite damaging: an abortion, an affair, theft from an employer. We betray God, each other and we betray the person God created us to be.

Despite his betrayal, Peter was chosen by Christ to lead the Apostles and the first Christians. How can that be? It is the mystery of salvation: Christ took those sins, and ours, with Him to the Cross and won for us our salvation. Peter knew He needed Christ and the salvation He offered.

What of Judas? Was his sin of betrayal so much greater? Some believe Judas’ fault lies elsewhere:

Perhaps Judas’ greatest sin was not in betraying Jesus; rather, it was in allowing himself to be consumed by a prideful despair after the betrayal. Unlike Peter and the rest of the apostles, Judas failed to repent; he failed to find hope. Like us at times, Judas could not see past his owns sins and his feelings of unworthiness. Instead of turning outward toward the Lord with a repentant heart that could have been filled with hope, Judas regrettably looked inward and saw only his own despair. Lacking the courage to begin his life anew, Judas ends his life by hanging himself.

Poor Judas despaired. He thought his sin was far too great to be forgiven. He lost hope; he failed to accept the salvation Christ offered.

There is not one of us who can stand and say, “I have no sin.” And no one of us can judge another. We even stumble when we judge ourselves, as Judas did. The Church has wisely given us the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so that a priest (acting in persona Christi) can counsel us and give us absolution. Otherwise, we could despair as well. Pope Benedict, speaking of this, said, “Let us remember two things. The first: Jesus respects our freedom. The second: Jesus waits for us to have the disposition to repent and to be converted; he is rich in mercy and forgiveness.”

This Tuesday of Holy Week, as we prepare to celebrate the Triduum, let us ponder our own need to repent, and the abundance of God’s mercy and forgiveness.