The Gospel of Luke – Peter’s Denial

The arrest of Jesus leads into three successive and connected scenes: Peter’s denial (vv. 54-62), the mocking of Jesus (vv. 63-65), and the trial before the religious authorities (vv. 66-71). What is interesting is that in the midst of the Passion narrative of Jesus, there is the scene in all four gospels that concentrate on Peter and his response.  Luke’s account is unique in the following respects: sequence – in that the denials occur in the courtyard before the mocking and interrogation; structure – Luke does not connect the denial as a caused by the trial; and detail – such as the servant girl sitting at the fireside where there is light to clearly recognize Peter  – and most vividly, it is Luke that reports Jesus looked Peter “dead in the eye,” bringing the full gravitas of the denials to Peter. Continue reading

The Gospel of Luke – The Time of Testing

Of course we all know that after the meal with his disciples that Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane.  Actually, no gospel says that.  Matthew and Mark wrote that he went to a garden. John says he went to Gethsemane. Fuse them all together and you get the “Garden of Gethsemane.”  What does Luke say? Luke only calls it “the place.”  There is no garden specifically mentioned nor is Gethsemane.  Is it important? Well, it is a reminder to be attentive to the text before you and not meld the familiar stories and scenes from other sacred writers.  Each sacred writer has something distinctive that can be missed if one fuses all the details from other accounts. Continue reading

Notre Dame

The experience of watching Notre Dame burn is at least a reminder that places matter. Physical places become sacred spaces because they are the places where we find God — or more accurately, places where God finds us.  Cathedrals like Notre Dame were built to be a visual teaching tool in a largely illiterate culture.  They proclaim the gospel without words.  Historian Jon Meacham described the cathedral as a “physical manifestation of an unseen reality.”  He said that one of the most important words in scripture is “remember” and that he shows up at mass whether he feels like it or not in order to remember and experience again the meaning of the death and resurrection of Christ.

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Perhaps the image of the Notre Dame cross glowing amid the smoke and ashes will draw us back to the sacred places where we remember and experience the presence of the One who said, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit…And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” (John 12:24-32) 


Jim Harnish, Why the Fire Matters