This question came up at RCIA this week: what’s the difference between Peter and Judas? The Gospel says that Judas betrayed Jesus, and Peter denied him. One is vilified, one became pope. What’s the deal?
One obvious answer is that Judas delivered Jesus into the hands of those who would kill him, while Peter, hmm, well, he denied his Lord to save his skin. The two offenses aren’t commensurate in human terms. But there’s more to it than that: Peter repented, and sought forgiveness; Judas despaired, and killed himself.
In paragraph 3 of Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis says, “Let me say this once more: God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy.” And this is surely true. We must not despair; we must keep asking for God’s grace and forgiveness that Jesus won for us.
As I noted to the candidates: it doesn’t matter what you’ve got in your past, or how wicked you’ve been, there’s some saint of God who has been there first and done worse…and then repented, by God’s grace and through no strength of their own. Pope Francis’ prayer, included in the same paragraph, is appropriate here:
Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”.