Day 4


Today, I was the main celebrant at the Church of St. Peter's in Gallicantu. This Church is built over the remains of the palace (or house) of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. While the Sanhedrin question Jesus, Peter was warming himself by the fire. During this time he denied Our Lord three times, and then the eyes of Peter and Jesus met. What strong emotions must have passed between them. Sometimes, you see an image of a rooster in churches. This recalls to us Peter's denial. We are reminded of our human weakness, and our need for forgiveness and strength from God. I have a couple of statues of roosters in my office that people have given me over the years, and it is a constant reminder to me that I have to ask God for strength to be faithful to Him.

 

St. Therese said, in commenting on Peter's denial, that if he had asked for strength it would have been given to him. It is a powerful and simple message that we often do not heed because we often think that we can handle the situation ourselves. Peter, with powerful emotion, had said “Though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be” and “Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.”

 

I often think too of the look that Jesus must have given Peter. Certainly, it is always a look of love and mercy to those who are repentant, but I think of it as a piercing look; one that convicts us of the truth of our lives. He knows us and our innermost thoughts. He speaks to the inner sanctum of our consciences where there is no “escaping” ourselves; where there is nothing to hide behind. The Good News of the Gospel is that we can repent of the evil we have done and have His peace in our hearts.

 

We know that Peter “went out and wept bitterly,” but the story does not end there. He is established in his primacy as the rock again one morning on a beach in Galilee after the Resurrection. He was probably more humble then; more distrustful of himself, and m ore full of trust in Jesus. I think the message, of course, is for all of us. In Peter's case, his weakness is recorded in the Scriptures, but it serves to strengthen our faith and trust in the Lord's goodness to us. Peter was told that he would fall and get back up to strengthen the faith of the others. St. Mark was a co-worker with Peter, and it was thought his version was taken or influenced by St. Peter. Mark's Gospel is a sobering and humble account of the disciples and Peter. I think Peter got the message.

Day 4 - Photos

A ray of light shines through the Church of the Dormition, where Mary was assumed into heaven.
A beautiful statue of Our Lady's Dormition.
A beautiful doorway arch into the Church of the Dormition.
The cistern beneath the house of Caiphas into which Jesus was lowered into and held prisoner over night on Holy Thursday.

This is the hole through which Jesus was lowered into the cistern/prison cell.

These are the steps that Jesus walked or was dragged up to Caiphas' house on Holy Thursday night.

 

The upper room where Jesus celebrated the Last Supper and where Pentecost occured.

 

Bullet holes in the wall around the old city part of Jerusalem. These are a constant reminder of the tensions here.

 

Fr. Mark walking along the wall of the Old City in Jerusalem.

 

A typical scene of the shops in the Old City.

 

Two older men playing backgammon, a common pastime.

 

Pilgrims enjoying a good meal together.