March 29, 2015
Mark 11:1-10 or
John 12:12-16Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24
Mark 14:1-15:47 or Mark 15:1-39
I was barely a teenager when I learned a profound lesson in friendship. In physical education class at school, the teacher appointed me one of two team captains to “choose up sides” for a softball game.
For my first choice I named Chris, my new friend since the previous summer when we had played together on a softball team. She was the obvious top pick for me since we loved playing ball together and she was quite good.
Even as I was calling out her name, I realized that my longtime “best friend” Margie wasn’t going to like that I didn’t choose her first. But I was concerned with selecting a winning team, I thought, so Margie would just have to deal with it.
After several rounds, I had all the players I needed to assure success. There were only three people left, including Margie, who by then was staring at the ground. When I called her name, she pointedly rolled her eyes as she joined my team.
She didn’t speak to me the rest of the day, and I knew she was angry.
That evening we finally talked. “I’m your best friend. I couldn’t believe you didn’t choose me first,” she said. I argued that we weren’t picking friends, we were picking the best players. But I realized I had made a terrible decision.
I’d denied my best friend right in front of all our other friends and classmates.
Margie forgave me quickly. She was a loyal friend who knew that our relationship was not only more important than winning a game, but transcended the sting of betrayal. Her love was stronger than that.
I knew I’d hurt my friend and, even at that young age, was surprised by the weakness of my disloyalty. The incident was like Peter’s denial of his friend in today’s Gospel.
In the account of Jesus’ passion, our savior suffered in every way. He was wrongly accused, physically tortured, mocked, betrayed, and denied by his closest friends. Broken and utterly alone, he endured the darkest moment a human being can experience.
Yet, he let it go, because his relationship with us was more important than the suffering — and his love more powerful than the failing of humanity.
Sacrificial love is our redemption.
This column is offered in cooperation with The North Texas Catholic of Fort Worth, Texas.