Success Through Failure
“Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; though you will follow later” (John 13:36).
Human betrayal is one of life’s most devastating experiences, for both the victim and the betrayer. It reveals just how weak we really are, especially in a crisis. A victim can recover and move on, but to abandon a friend or fail to keep a promise for lack of courage will stay with the one who betrays until they find a way to make amends, if this is even possible.
Judas hangs himself in despair when he realizes what he has done. Peter weeps bitterly and will recover only by reliving his triple denial in a heart-rending encounter with the risen Jesus. All of disciples will in some form or other experience a profound conversion before they are confirmed as Apostles.
Isn’t this part of the story, a necessary failure that prepares Peter and the Apostles to preach the gospel of mercy? What they proclaim to others they must first experience themselves. As God forgives them, so they will preach that same forgiveness to others. Even the worst sin – to deny a friend, to abandon your post in a moment of cowardice – finds forgiveness.
Jesus’ words at the Last Supper, “One of you will betray me,” probe all our hearts. Like Peter, we think it can never happen to us, yet it does. Peter is so determined to follow, yet Jesus tells him that he cannot follow now. Jesus must first open the way to divine mercy by his death on the cross. After that, we will also be invited to walk the same road he walked. This is the meaning of our discipleship.
Holy Week takes us deeper and deeper into the mystery of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. The most difficult part may be our need to confront our own betrayals, sins and failures, yet this is how we will understand God’s saving mercy. Let us go forward, confident that God is showing us in Jesus the path to Glory.