The Denial of Peter: A Message of Hope for Those Involved in Abortion

Kevin Burke, LSW“Surely you are one of them; for you too are a Galilean.” Peter began to curse and to swear, “I do not know this man about whom you are talking.” And immediately a cock crowed a second time. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said to him, “Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.”

Peter broke down…and wept.

That prior evening as the Apostles gathered for what would be their final Passover meal together,
Peter felt strong, secure and confident gathered with Jesus and the other apostles. Peter, with all sincerity offered to give his life for Jesus.

But just a few short hours later… all hell was breaking loose.

Peter must have been shaken that Jesus did not resist arrest, and now his once powerful  Master
suffered abuse as he was spit on and mocked by the Temple guards. Peter was later alone and separated from his fellow apostles. His beloved leader was no longer preaching, performing spectacular miracles like raising Lazarus from the dead…but facing the horror of Roman crucifixion. Peter was traumatized by these events and feared for his life. In that fear and isolation he denied the one he pledged to defend and protect.

The Last SupperIt is a sign of the validity of the Gospel accounts that any political movement or religion would have one of its key foundational leaders presented in such an unflattering light. Peter as leader of the Christian Church must have approved of such a depiction of his betrayal. No doubt it was the fruit of his tearful repentance, humility and later his post-resurrection restoration by Jesus as leader of the early Christian Church. (John 21, 15-19)

What a consolation to us in our moments of fear and weakness when in various ways, we abort God’s will for our lives. I think of those that are involved in abortion decisions. We know that some of these men and women prior to the abortion would consider themselves to be pro life, or at least were formed with these values in their families. However in the fear, anger and uncertainty of an unplanned and life changing pregnancy, like Peter they can give in to those fears and deny the truth. They deny their unborn son/daughter who bears the imprint of the Creator.

This denial also leads to bitter tears and much heartache.

Liberating Repentance
Pope Benedict XVI wrote of the example of Peter and his words have a special significance for men who have participated in any way in an abortion decision:

The school of faith is not a triumphal march but a journey marked daily by suffering and love, trials and faithfulness. Peter, who promised absolute fidelity, knew the bitterness and humiliation of denial: the arrogant man learns the costly lesson of humility. Peter, too, must learn that he is weak and in need of forgiveness. Once his attitude changes and he understands the truth…he weeps in…liberating repentance…he is finally ready for his mission. — Benedict XVI

This is the Good News for all who have participated in the death of an unborn child…but in a special way this speaks to fathers. Like many men, Peter wanted to be strong and do the right thing, but in a time of fear and weakness he failed. Peter is chastened and humbled by his fall and after repentance and restoration now understands that he cannot rely on his own strength, but in the power of Jesus.

It is challenging for men to put aside their pride and admit they failed to protect their unborn child from death. But the Lord waits for them with mercy and forgiveness. Jesus will not condemn them for their sin, but rather give them the grace of grieving their loss in liberating repentance.

In the healing of this loss men will in time discover another gift…their unique vocation in the Body of Christ.

What a great blessing it will be for our families, Churches and nation when the millions of men involved in abortion decisions turn to Christ for healing and restoration. What a powerful army will be unleashed to share the light of the Gospel, empowering men in their mission to defend the sanctity of life in all its stages…and to protect the dignity of women, who are truly beloved daughters of their heavenly Father.

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