After singing the hymn they went out to the Mount of Olives.
And Jesus said to them "All of you shall fall since it is written
'I will strike down the shepherd
And the sheep shall be scattered.'
But after I'm raised I'll go ahead of you to Galilee."
Peter said to him "Even if everybody stumbles not I."
Jesus said to him "Amen I tell you, you - today, tonight before the cock crows twice -
you'll deny me three times."
But he just kept saying "If I must die with you no way would I deny you."
All said likewise too.
- Mark's gospel
It just now hit me. I don't know why, but I overlooked it, somehow. Denial. The season of Lent contains moments or days, maybe even weeks, of Amen I tell you, you - today, tonight before the cock crows. Oh, I knew it was in the story; Peter and that damned old bird. But me? No way, even if, not I. But if I can keep denial locked up in the story, something Peter did, then I can waltz through Lent with a melancholy visage and never, ever hear the crowing in my own ears of that damned old bird.
Maybe you said likewise too.
You see, I'm John (which means "beloved"), not Peter. I'm not impetuous with my speech. I weigh my words carefully, or at least let each one audition. I wouldn't boldly proclaim my devotion to the Lord in some spotlighted speech. No, I'd craft a blog post with pertinent quotes from others mixed with my own proclamations or maybe write a letter to the editor dripping with glorious prose.
Jump out of a boat and start walking toward the Lord? No, not me. I'd just keep rowing, plodding along, faithful John (which means "beloved"). Draw a sword and whack an ear? Goodness, not me. I'm compassionate and gentle, a man too gentle to live among wolves like Peter. Deny him in front of a servant girl? Once, twice, three times a denier? C'mon, I'm John, not Peter.
Right, Lord? I'm John (which means "beloved"), not Peter. Right? Please tell me that I'm John. Please reassure me that even if all the other sheep go each unto their own way, that I'll stay with you. Lord, I'm faithful, solid, dependable, trustworthy, patient, longsuffering, gentle...that's me, right? Lord, say something, anything. I've been faithful all these years, I've stayed in your house, I haven't squandered my inheritance like, like...I've been faithful to my wife unlike...I've been a good dad unlike...I preached as long as I could, Lord. Lord? God? Jesus? Holy Spirit? For Christ's sake, isn't anybody listening to me? Damn it, Lord.
Amen I tell you, you, today, tonight, this morning, sometime...you, you, John-which-means-beloved, you will deny me. You have denied me. Don't ask for whom the cock crows, John. It crows for you. Do not deny the crow of that damned old bird. For he reminds you of your damned old you, the you I came to seek and to save. John, I have given you a new name, one not found in dictionaries or word searches. You know that name. Remember? I spoke it to you clearly on that day as the sun broke through the aspens with a clarity the world seldom sees. I did not hesitate and make you wait for the name; no, I gave it quickly, willingly, gladly, such is my love for you, you. It is the name you must carry in this life. It is both burden and gift. But do not harden your ears against my damned old bird. He is my beloved. As you are.