Next Friday is Good Friday. It is hard to believe how this Lent has flown by and that Easter is almost here. The past few Fridays we have looked at how those to whom Jesus entrusted his life brought him more pain than any nails, or scourge, or crown of thorns ever could.
Judas betrayed him for financial reasons. Peter denied him lest he be found guilty by association with the one who had called him friend. The rest of Jesus’ friends abandoned him, scattering scared into the night.
In junior high my best friend was Larry Lane. He was tall and skinny, and we hung out together during lunch and recess. It was during one of those recesses that the school bully decided to pick on us. The bully was big, but there were two of us. So, I turned around to confront him. I was about halfway through telling him what I thought of him when I looked around and discovered Larry was nowhere to be seen.
When the going gets tough a coward gets going, and Larry fled leaving me to face the consequences alone. Obviously, I survived, and, later, Larry said that he just assumed I would run, too. I didn’t and discovered courage I never knew I had. Unfortunately, I never trusted Larry again. We moved a few months later, so he never had a chance to change my mind. He was the first friend who abandoned me, but, of course, he wasn’t the last.
As I thought about Larry and all the disciples of Jesus, I realized that, although it feels good to castigate those shallow or cowardly friends who didn’t stand with me when I needed them, a healthier exercise might be to reflect on which friends I have abandoned in my life.
As I tried to think of them, I learned, not surprisingly, that this was the much harder exercise. We have a staggering capacity to rationalize and justify almost anything, so we have painted out those memories. We have convinced ourselves that, if we had been Andrew or Philip or James, we wouldn’t have run away. The truth is we probably would have. Just try a little harder, and I bet you can find a friend whose last view of you was your backside as you covered your behind.
Fridays of Lent are for honesty, even if we don’t have the courage to confess.
Rev. Michael Piazza