This Sunday was Palm Sunday, also called Passion Sunday. The gospel reading narrated the Passion of Christ from the last Supper to His body being laid in the tomb. As I was listening to the narration about the day that changed our lives forever, I heard so many names – Jesus, Pilate, Judas, Caiaphas, Simeon, daughters of Jerusalem, Herod...... But the name struck me the most was Peter; the incident that shook me up was him denying Jesus three times, the moment that touched me the most was the gaze that Jesus gave Peter after his denial.
During The Last Supper, Peter was so confident about his commitment to the Lord and so unaware of what was going to happen that he boldly proclaimed that He would be with Jesus all through and won’t leave Him at all even if it meant prison or death. Peter never would have imagined what unfolded in the next few hours. Jesus, his master, who performed so many miracles, who healed the deaf, the lame, the dumb, the blind, the leper, who calmed storms, who walked on water, who multiplied bread, who brought back dead from life, whom everyone welcome with songs of Joy and shouts of Hosanna just a few days ago, whose proud disciple he was; the same Jesus was standing in front of an angry crowd who was jeering at Him, spitting on Him, slapping and beating Him and Jesus who had the power and authority over everything was standing helpless. Peter was shattered seeing all this and that’s when people surround him and accuse him of being a follower of Jesus. He denies Jesus. Three times. “And the Lord turned around and looked at Peter.” (Luke 22:61) Jesus gazed at Peter, looked straight into his eyes.
Jesus’ gaze didn’t mean – ‘See, I told you so. How could you do this to me? You of all the people! What a wretched person you are.’ It was not a gaze which had anger, contempt, hatred, disgust, disappointment in it. It was a gaze full of love. It was a gaze which meant – ‘I love you. I love you just as you are; in your weaknesses, in your shortcomings, in your failures, in your fear, in your denial. I love you and I am going through all this for my love for you, so that we could be together in eternity. I know you have denied me, but I don’t hold it against you. What matters to me is your love for me, is that you come back to me.’ And that gaze, I believe, changed Peter’s life. He came back to Jesus, spent the rest of his life for Him and died the way His master died – crucified, but upside down.
I can so relate to Peter, at least the denial part. I believe many of us can. So many times we decide to be all for Jesus, to do whatever God wants us to do, to obey Him, to be good but very soon we betray Him, we deny Him, we disobey him in ways big and small. In so many situations we forget what God desires of us and do just what we desire. In moments of temptation we don’t bother about how God longs that we choose to be with Him, but instead we just give into our weaknesses. So many times we fail to stand up for our relationship with our Father. But at the end of all this, what awaits us is the same gaze full of love, the gaze that desires that we come back to Him, the gaze that says – ‘I know. I understand. I forgive.’, the reassuring gaze that strongly invites us saying ‘Come, follow me.’
Let’s spend these days gazing at Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, in the Bible. Let’s gaze at the face of the crucified Lord, who died and rose again, all for His love for us. Let’s look into His eyes and find the meaning of our lives. Look straight in His eyes and your life will never be the same again.
Let’s also look at others with the same loving, forgiving gaze when they wrong us, hurt us, do or say bad things about us, betray us. Your one gaze can change other’s life as well. It’s difficult but we are called to do exactly that - to love and forgive, the way Jesus did.
O Lord, who am I, that your eyes that see my sin, would look on me with love and watch me rise again! Thank you so much for loving me.
God loves you!