One day, when my brother and I were kids, we were throwing a football back and forth inside, in our shared bedroom. I threw it too hard and my brother panicked and ducked, and the ball went right through our window. We stopped dead in our tracks and listened to see if our parents might have heard the glass breaking. After a few minutes of silence, we were sure that we were safe. They hadn’t heard us. We drew the curtains over the broken window, and decided to hide the truth that it was broken.
The Gospel reading today begins with Jesus telling the truth. This isn’t really surprising, since we expect Jesus to tell the truth. What’s different, is that it’s a truth that his friends the disciples don’t want to hear. This truth is sad. Jesus tells them that he’s going to suffer, to be rejected, and will even be killed, but that he will rise to life again three days later.
St. Peter—who is always the first to speak up—yells at Jesus for telling the truth. I think Peter might have done this because Jesus was his teacher and friend, and Peter didn’t want to hear about the sad things that were going to happen to Jesus. He’s scared. He doesn’t want Jesus to suffer, but he also doesn’t want Jesus to tell the truth about what’s going to happen. He wants to cover it up and forget it, like my brother and I did with our broken bedroom window.
Now, my brother and didn’t have a smart plan to keep our lie going. We lived in Wisconsin, and it was January. The temperatures got down to 20 degrees below zero that first night, and the wind swept in through that broken window, reminding us of what we had done, and we shivered together under a shared blanket, determined to stick it out until winter was over. It would be easier when spring came, we told each other. The second night was even colder, and we were miserable. After the third night, we couldn’t take it anymore. We told our parents that we’d broken the window. The lie was over; we told the truth. We had lied at first because we didn’t want to suffer, but keeping up the lie meant keeping the broken window in the middle of January, and we had suffered anyway.
Jesus never thinks to lie. He tells the truth, even though it’s sad for his friends to hear, even though its painful. It’s always better to get into trouble for telling the truth, than to get into trouble for telling a lie. If you tell the truth, what was wrong can be fixed, like the broken window. If you tell lies, things that are wrong can’t be fixed, and the freezing wind will just keep blowing.
The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor for Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog