Christian Counseling can use the story of Judas and Peter as excellent ways to show how a Christian shows true remorse
Palm Sunday emphasized the joyous proclamation of Christ as king, but like many who initially accept him, many later deny him. The Jews who adored him, one week later scorned him and the many apostles who proclaimed their fidelity to him, denied him only days later. In our Lenten sacrifices, do we later fall from grace and deny or betray our lord after the end of Lent? Can we truly say we take our palm branches to the foot of the cross as did Mary, John and the Holy women?
It is probably so that many of us are not like Mary, John or the Holy Women, but do fall to the lures of this world. Our concupiscence and fallen nature, only so easily fall to the pleasures of sense. Our wills so strong one moment, befall to the temptations of this world and the devil. It would not be surprising if many of us did fail in some of our Lenten promises and at times did not fulfill one’s obligation. It is human nature to fall, but we are not defined by our fall but how we pick ourselves up. Christians will sin and fall but through the grace of Christ, one can exhibit true Lenten remorse. Christian Counselors can help one find this.
True Lenten remorse is having hope and faith in Christ that he will forgive us when we fail him. This involves removing one’s pride and placing one’s hope in Christ’s deepest love for us. Falling while never good is important because it helps us understand our weaknesses but it also helps us realize how much we love Christ and wish not to fall again. In this way, we should contrast two forms of remorse found during the Holy Week and Passion of Christ. They are the way of Peter or the way of Judas.
The Way of Judas
The way of Judas after his betrayal of Christ did exhibit true remorse. After his betraying kiss to our Lord, he felt deep guilt and intense sadness. He threw the pieces of silver at the chief priests and cursed them for their action. However, instead of seeking out our Lord or his mother, he fled the city and without hope and full of despair hung himself. Do we ever feel that we are unworthy of Christ’s love to such an extent that we would flee his love? This is obviously not true Christian remorse for it lacks two things. First, faith in Christ’s love and second, a lack of hope that leads to despair and never allows for contrition.
The Way of Peter in Christian Counseling
The way of Peter was also true remorse but differ ultimately in its end. Peter triumphantly proclaimed he would never deny our lord, but only after things became difficult, did fear and human weakness overcome him. He fled our lord in his darkest hour and denied him three times. This denial of our lord was realized as the cock crowed twice. In this moment of intense guilt and pain, Peter wept bitterly. However, unlike Judas, Peter would again rise. He felt horrible about his denial of our Lord, but instead had faith in forgiveness and pushed forward to new spiritual heights as the first leader of the early church. He would even later validate his intense love for Christ via his own crucifixion, which he suffered upside down out of respect for Christ.
Beyond Peter, we also see the remorse of the apostles. Did not the apostles also proclaim their fidelity to Christ but to only fall later? Their spirits were strong but their flesh was weak. One can see their failure as many of them fell asleep as Christ sweat blood in the garden. Their ultimate failure is later seen as they fled the garden in fear of the soldiers who came to apprehend Christ. There after they would remain hidden until Christ’s resurrection. All would eventually suffer martyrdom and vindicate themselves before Christ with their ultimate gift, their lives. Only St. John would escape martyrdom because only he stood at the foot of the cross and experienced his own spiritual martyrdom of witnessing his lord die.
Christian Counselors should emphasize the importance of true remorse of Peter and the apostles who later died for Christ. Their failures and fall from grace are all examples to us. We too can fall but also be given another chance to show Christ our love for him. The way of Judas prevents one from showing true remorse and growing from one’s fault. In contrast, through the way of Peter, we can share the pain of the apostles in that we too fail Christ, but we can also share in their joy when we show remorse and grow from it. If you are interested in the Christian Spiritual Counseling program, please click here.
By Mark Moran, MA