The Gospel passage highlights two personalities, each with contrasting traits.
On the one hand, we have Jesus, sure-handed and firmly in control, presiding over his sacrifice. He has just finished washing the feet of the apostles a few passages earlier; here, he opens the final act of his sacrifice by dispatching Judas.
On the other hand, we have Peter who starts off quite unsure of himself; he is so insecure that he has to have John ask his question for him. Later in the passage, perhaps reassured by Jesus having sent off Judas, Peter becomes smug and over-confident, and declares his readiness to give up his life for Jesus. Just as he did many times before, Jesus puts Peter in his place by foretelling his betrayal.
Any journey with Jesus is much like Peter’s; it blows hot and cold, full of certainty one moment, doubt the next. In this Gospel reading, Jesus repeats what he said to the Jews “Where I am going, you cannot follow me,” but adds “…afterwards, you will.” By these words, Jesus encourages Peter – and the rest of us to stay the course no matter how clumsily and when doubt sets in. Peter persevered, bore his own cross and followed Jesus into heaven. The same promise is given to us.
Holy Spirit, give us courage and perseverance to believe in the promise of Jesus’ sacrifice so that we can one day follow him into heaven.