The week ahead is full of textures and colours that inform our very being. Think of the many ways we use our bodies and the gifts of creation in the liturgies of Holy Week: We wave palm branches. We kneel at the proclamation of the Death of the Lord. We use water to wash one another’s feet. We touch or kiss the wood of the cross. The Easter Vigil alone offers us a symphony for our bodily senses—fire, incense, bells, water, oil, and of course, bread and wine. As we enter into the mysteries from Palm/Passion Sunday through the Resurrection joy of Easter, we can pray with the fullness of our own bodies. One poignant and tragic moment during the arrest of Jesus is Peter’s denial, a moment that is both heartbreaking and familiar.
Caravaggio’s The Denial of Saint Peter invites us into this moment with psychological intensity. We meet three characters standing together in the dark of night: a military guard, a maidservant, and Saint Peter himself. The visual narrative moves from left to right. The guard turns toward the maidservant, while she regards him with intensity. Her starkly-lit face symbolizes the harsh and condemning truth she is sharing about Peter’s denial. The guard’s face is in darkness, showing that he does not yet fully understand, but he is leaning in to hear and eyeing Peter carefully. His raised hand with an extended finger shows his understanding dawning. The maid’s hands right behind his are more clearly accusatory, pointing right at Peter.
Peter is at the right side of the scene, cast in a softer light. His hands point to his own chest, offering a self-condemning conclusion to the movement of hands in the scene. Though he did deny the Lord three times, it was his fear speaking, not his understanding. After the cock crowed, he realized the truth of what had happened. Jesus had foretold the scene, not condemning but plainly stating Peter’s need for healing, forgiveness, and faith. This truth casts Peter in the soft light of compassion, and he is able to turn his hands inward as if to accept the need for healing and forgiveness.
Caravaggio’s depiction of Peter also emphasizes the complexity of betrayal. We truly see Peter’s heartbreaking guilt, which will lead him to weep bitterly. Peter did contribute to the suffering brought on the Lord, sharing in the role of executioner, not physically but by his abandonment and denial.
The story of the Passion is full of moments of violence, tragedy, heartache, and pain. May we stand with Peter around the fire in the soft light of healing truth.
The Reverend Anne Price
- Preparations for Easter: Donations for flowers to Jill Woodside or to the parish office; Working bee for brass cleaning etc: Saturday 10:00 am in the lounge; Floral Cross: please bring garden flowers next Sunday morning.
- For Maundy Thursday: If you would like to take part in the foot washing during the Mass, please sign the list at the back of the church. After the Mass, the Blessed Sacrament remains on the Altar of Repose until the next day. Membersof the congregation keep watch for an hour during the night. If you can do this,please sign the list at the back of the church so that we can ensure that at least
two people are present at all times. Details Stephen Woodside (338 9590).
- Supper after the Easter Vigil on Saturday: please bring finger food to share.
- Easter Raffle: tickets on sale today, $2 each or 3 for $5. To be drawn on 8 April.
- Deadline Tuesday for material for Holy Week and Easter Trumpets.
- Vestry meets on Tuesday, beginning with Mass at 6:00 pm.
- Meditation Group meets in the Lady Ch apel on Wednesday at 12 noon.Details Margaret Maclagan (359 9215).
- Daylight saving ends next weekend: clocks go back one hour.
- Lunch at Regatta on Avon: Easter Day 12 noon. Details Alice.
- Palm Sunday to Easter 2017: if you would like to read Fr Andrew’s sermons(in print or by email) copies are available from the parish office.
- The Women’s Fellowship thanks everyone who supported the soup and baking stall
last Sunday. Your generosity is appreciated.
- Parish AGM 15 April: reports to parish office please.
- Book Swap: in the parish lounge. CDs also available. Koha to parish.
- Inasmuch basket: please continue to support the City Mission with your giftsof groceries and other household items.