On Good Friday we walked the Stations of the Cross on the outskirts of the villa. Given the delicate situation, the parish priest decided that it was best not to go into the heart of the slum. As many know, the Stations depict different stages in the Passion of Jesus Christ starting in the Garden of Gethsemane and ending with Jesus entombed or resurrected depending on which version one uses. While I was walking and praying someone asked me if I wanted to carry the cross during part of the procession. I accepted.
Then we came to Station Four: Jesus denied by Peter. Here in Argentina, each station is read at the doorstep of a neighbor’s home…
We recall from Luke 22 that while Jesus was being handed over to the authorities Peter denied knowing Him:
Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Here’s the reflection that went at the end of the Bible reading at this station. I leave it in Spanish for those who know it:
Jesús, nos duele mucho cuando un conocido nos trata como un desconocido, especialmente en los momentos de necesidad. Y sabemos que hay veces que te negamos cuando nuestro prójimo nos necesita. Padre, nunca negaste a tu Hijo y nunca nos niegas tampoco. Nunca tienes vergüenza de nosotros.
It says, “Jesus, it hurts us greatly when someone we know treats us as if they don’t know us especially in moments of need. And we know that sometimes we deny You when our neighbor needs us. Father, You never denied your Son and You never deny us either. You are never ashamed of us.”
Upon hearing those words, “You are never ashamed of us”, I imagined that the old woman receiving her neighbors might have been thinking, “I’ve been treated as an unknown many times. But God the Father is not ashamed of me. He is not ashamed of my humble home.” Then I thought of Peter. Perhaps he did not deny Jesus in fear for his life, but rather out of embarrassment. Maybe he was ashamed to be associated with a failure.
But the Father is never ashamed of us. I reflected upon my own shame and failures and upon the loving acceptance that is always there for me in times of deepest need. So at that moment, holding the cross at this family’s doorstep, I felt God’s presence saying, “Behold! These most humble children I exalt today in your eyes. Let them not be ashamed because they are mine and nothing will take them from My Hand. In my Kingdom, those who are first will be last, and those who are last will be first. Blessed are the poor in spirit, who know their need of God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.”