Fr Paul Gooley reads from the Gospel of John (13: 21-33, 36-38) which shares details of Jesus’s last meal with his disciples.

Fr Paul says rather than telling us the story of the Last Supper, the Gospel give us only two incidents at the Supper, that there is traitor, and the institution of the Eucharist. John identifies the traitor, but the synoptic Gospels of Mark, Luke, and Matthew stress not his identity by name but as one who dips his hand in the dish with Jesus.

The Church also puts before us the failure of the disciples, led by Peter. Throughout Jesus’s ministry this has been a theme, especially in Mark. Three times the disciples are rebuked for their failure to understand who Jesus is and, again, three more times they fail to grasp the teaching on suffering, that as the Messiah Jesus can only accomplish his mission by suffering and death, and that his disciples must share this suffering.

The theme reaches its climax with Peter’s repeated protests at the Last Supper that he is ready to die with Jesus and, yet, we know that he will deny knowing Jesus when he is challenged by the servant girl in the High Priest’s house.

In John, at any rate, we hear the story of Peter’s repentance and his response to the Risen Christ’s threefold challenge at the Lakeside. The prominence given to this theme is surely a reminder that the Twelve are role-models for future disciples even in their failure – and in their repentance.

Fr Paul says the lesson we might reflect on from today’s Gospel: Perfection is less important than repentance.