It is Holy Week, and I would like to repost something that I put up on Holy Saturday last year.
Holy Saturday is the day in-between. Very little is written about what happened on that day, but we can imagine. We can imagine a man, much like us. A man defeated, alone, miserable and afraid. This man, who was once called a rock, today thinks of himself as simply – Simon. Imagine him sitting in a strange house in a city not his own, staring out the window, seeing nothing but his own failure, and the loss of all of his hopes and dreams. I have felt this way at times, and perhaps you have also.
He thinks of the glorious promise that he has witnessed the past months, the miraculous and wonderful things he has seen and heard. He thinks of the Man who showed so much faith in him, the Man who has now gone, died, left them all alone, without hope or will. But most of all he thinks of his own terrible failure and betrayal. A failure that his leader had predicted, and which he himself would never have imagined possible.
Yesterday, that black day, had proven to the man once called the rock, that he was made of no more than weak, mortal, human clay. Three times he had confirmed his human cowardice, his unworthiness to lead, or even to live. On this Saturday, the man who now once again thinks of himself simply as Simon, is filled with an unimaginable despair at the loss of everything he once valued, most especially his own dignity.
Have you been there? Have you had to face the fact that you are unworthy because of your actions? No excuses, you simply failed. The time for heroism, for standing tall, for being more than you thought you could be, the time to prove yourself truly a rock of faith, of hope, of goodness, the time had come, and you…you had failed to heed the call. In your weakness or fear, you had simply turned away, waving your hand in dismissal. “No” you said “I don’t know anything about that, Leave me alone”. And not just once, but often. And then it was over, the terrible moment passed, and you were left with only the taste of the ashes of your own personal failure, as the whole glorious edifice you believed in and had worked so hard for, came crashing down in chaos and defeat.
I have been there. That is why I have long been so fascinated by this day that lies between the day of anguish and the day of triumph. On this day, Simon sits in agony and stares into space, not yet knowing that tomorrow everything will change again. Today, he is still unaware of tomorrow’s miracle that will change everything in the world forever. Today is the lowest point in his life, but tomorrow he, along with his dispersed friends, will be witness to a breathtaking renewal of hope. The resurrection of tomorrow means not only the resurrection of the living God, not only the rising of the Son of Man, but also the rising of man himself. A man like Simon, weak, afraid, defeated, failed, a man whose despicable actions on the Friday have left him hopeless and full of self-loathing, also rises on Easter Sunday, and once more becomes Peter the Rock.
Like us, he is all too human, and yet like us, he is capable of all that he later accomplished. I do not believe he ever forgot his acts of betrayal. But through grace and faith, and his human moral strength, he rose above them, and he fulfilled his destiny as a great fisher of men. So of all the miracles of tomorrow and the days and years that follow, for me the greatest is the miracle of the redemption of the man – the mortal, ordinary fisherman named simply, Simon. Peace be with you in this holy season.