All this talk about the Mandatum prompted me to re-read what our Holy Father Emeritus had to say about it in his Jesus of Nazareth (vol. 2) which, incidentally, will serve very well as my Lenten Spiritual Reading.
Needless to say, it is rich and profound reading. But what really struck me this time were his reflections on Peter's refusal to have his feet washed. Ratzinger links this to Peter's earlier 'Lord, may this never happen to you!' (Remember, that time when Our Lord forgot about being non-judgmental and not hurting people's feelings, and said: Get thou behind me, Satan!). He also links it to Peter's impetuous cutting off of the servant's ear, but most tellingly to Peter's denial of Our Lord.
He concludes: It is the response to Jesus that we find throughout history: You are the victor, you are the strong one - you must not lower yourself or practice humility! Again and again Jesus has to help us recognise anew that God's power is different, that the Messiah must pass through suffering to glory and must lead others along the same path.
So I was left with the question: was Peter's concern at Our Lord's suffering born out of a deep and probably unconscious fear that he might have to suffer too?
And of course that leads to the immediate realisation that at least one of the reasons I am so upset at the Church sets out, yet again, on the Way of the Cross, is that I am afraid I may be called to suffer; that I do not wish to tread that Way.
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