Jesus Denied by St. Peter

Source: THE SCHOOL OF JESUS CRUCIFIED, Fr. Ignatius of the Side of Jesus,
TAN BOOKS, with Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur, 1895



THREE times did St. Peter deny his Divine Master; let us, therefore, meditate upon the
causes of those denials, which were at once so insulting and so painful to our blessed Jesus.

1. He denies Jesus through the tepidity of his love for Him.

   The love of Peter for his Master had greatly cooled. He had slept when he should have prayed. He had followed Jesus afar oft, and more through curiosity than affection, to see the end. Instead of compassionating his Lord in His Passion, he was listening to idle conversation.

In short, idleness, listlessness, curiosity, and neglect of prayer---all fatal marks of tepidity---prepared the soul of Peter for his unhappy fall. A soul cannot remain long in a state of tepidity, without falling into serious faults. The passions grow stronger as the love of God becomes weaker. The devil assaults the soul with a degree of violence increased in proportion to her neglect of prayer. God withdraws His special graces from the tepid soul, to punish her criminal languor. In this state, she is, as it were, on the very edge of a deep, perhaps even bottomless, abyss and the slightest push is sufficient to cast her down headlong. If you have grown cold in the practice of virtue, negligent in prayer, forgetful of the presence of God, and indulgent in your passions, delay not for a moment to return to your first fervor, otherwise you will end by committing great sins, and perhaps at last incur eternal damnation.

2. Peter denies Jesus through presumption and self-confidence.

   It almost always happens that interior sentiments of pride precede the commission of grievous sins. Peter was not aware of his own weakness. He preferred himself before others; he trusted in himself as though he were incapable of sinning, boasting that no temptation would separate him from Jesus. He would not even believe the assurance of his Divine Master, that he would deny Him thrice. Deceived by this vain confidence in his own strength, he neglects to pray, and to have recourse to God; and God, in His justice, permits him to fall, in punishment of his pride. There is nothing more dangerous than to confide in our own strength, and trust to feelings of fervor. We are full of malice, and capable of committing the most enormous crimes, unless God supports us. Who can now yield to temptations of pride? The Saints have fallen. Peter, the most fervent of all the Apostles, falls after having passed three years in the school of Christ, and been taught by His Divine lips, and been so favored by Him, and after having protested so many times that he would rather die than offend Him! Peter denies all knowledge of Him, even with oaths and imprecations. Good God! how low may we fall in one moment! Be on your guard against yourself and your own weakness, and continually implore the help of Divine Grace.

3. St. Peter denies Jesus, because he rashly exposes himself to the occasions of sin.

   He remains in the company of the soldiers---a licentious and dissolute set of men---and becomes on such intimate terms with them as to warm himself at the same fire. Evil company is a most dangerous occasion of sin. If you do not avoid the society of the wicked, you will end by becoming like them. St. Peter, alarmed at the voice of a servant, denies Jesus, and thus commits one sin; but still he does not avoid the dangerous occasion, or fly from that place and company which have already been fatal to him. Consequently, he sins a second and a third time, and would never have entered into himself, nor risen from the deep abyss into which he had fallen, had not Jesus Christ, by a loving look of mercy enlightened and raised him up. Every time you have fallen into mortal sin, you have denied Jesus. As often as you have exposed yourself to the danger of committing sin, so often have you declared by your actions that you know not Jesus, who has commanded you to fly from the occasions of denying Him. Ah, by the love you bear your own soul, always tremble with horror at the thought of returning to those occasions where you have at other times fallen into sin! Tremble, and fly, if you do not wish to offend God.

The Fruit

   St. Peter fell into sin for one brief hour, and bewailed his fall during the whole remainder of his life. Never did he forget that he had sinned and displeased his beloved Master. By how many enormous faults have you displeased your good God, your amiable Redeemer? Repeatedly renew your acts of contrition. St. Peter did not for one moment delay his repentance and conversion. How long has God called and invited you to repentance? Resolve this very day to be converted to God. Do not wait till tomorrow, as perhaps tomorrow, time for you may be no more.


   The thought of Jesus suffering is a remedy against all the assaults of the devil. Blessed Christina of Cologne, being tormented by devils, interiorly with horrible temptations and exteriorly with blows and other tortures, was accustomed to repel their assaults and preserve her soul in patience amidst so many trials, by the remembrance of the sufferings of Jesus. "If I look at Jesus dying on the Cross for my sake," she would say, "I do not fear to endure all that Hell can inflict on me for His love." "When I remember how my innocent Jesus was transfixed by cruel nails," she would exclaim to the demons, "I offer myself willingly to suffer any tortures from your hands, that so I may have a share in His dolorous Passion." The utterance of these few words either freed her from the evil spirits, or enabled her to preserve unalterable serenity of mind. (Bollandists, June 22).