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  • Sarah Raad

Rooster

“…this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” (Matthew 26:34).

Last Supper (Dagnan-Bouveret)

A few weeks ago – on a Wednesday – we were finally able to collect our hens for whom we had been long preparing to receive... So, on that fateful day, off we drove to the hen-breeder and waited patiently for the lady there to choose the half dozen chickens that we were to take home with us.


We asked the lady to choose the more mature birds from the flock – because the more mature the bird the more likely it would be to lay eggs soon and we were very excited to start eating freshly laid eggs…


And after we brought the “girls” home and settled them into their new palace, all seemed to be going well. The hens became used to their coop, and got along well with the children and though they had not started laying eggs, the children went through about 10kilograms of chicken feed – much to their father’s consternation – within the first few days in an effort to fatten them up and get them ready for laying…


But there was one white chicken who was a little less friendly than all the others. She was the largest of the hens and we simply assumed that perhaps she was a little more cautious given her more advanced age and so we mostly left her to her own devices.


And then, at about 6am on the first Saturday morning after we had brought those chooks home – while I was lying peacefully in bed praying my prayers at the start of my day – I heard a strangely familiar sound.


At first, I sort of ignored it... After all, at that stage I had only heard it once and so I put it down to an overactive imagination… But then I heard it again. And again. And again.


The third or fourth time I heard that sound, I could not ignore it any longer.


Turning to my husband I said, “Can you hear that crowing? Those neighbours of ours are so inconsiderate! Can you imagine the nerve of them – bringing a rooster home in a suburban neighbourhood!”


Now – before you judge me – our neighbours do actually keep hens and we often hear them clucking away during the daytime and I simply assumed that they had purchased the offending bird.


After all, this was the first time we had ever heard a rooster cock-a-doodle-do in our neighbourhood…


My husband immediately got up to investigate…


Well – you can imagine his surprise to see what we had previously thought to be the largest white hen standing on the top of the chicken coop in the early morning sunlight proudly cock-a-doodle-do-ing right there in our own backyard!


Thankfully, the breeder happily accepted the offending rooster back and replaced him with a lovely white hen who will hopefully have a long and prosperous life supplying eggs for us…


But I was thinking of this rooster and his crowing as I was going about my work today, and it reminded me of something that I had read in the Gospels…

“Peter said to Him, ‘Even if all fall away on account of You, I never will.’ ‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus declared, ‘this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ Peter replied, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will never deny You.’ And all the other disciples said the same thing…” (Matthew 26:33-35).

And I have been reflecting on this passage for some time now. Because Christ KNEW that He would be betrayed and He KNEW that He would be denied and His RESPONSE to such knowledge is mystifying…


I imagine myself in that situation in which Christ had found Himself that night. After all, I have known people who have betrayed my trust and I have seen myself deal with them afterwards… And so, I can imagine the hurt and the trepidation that one would naturally feel around those people who could hurt him…


Christ KNEW that His very best friends in the whole world – those people who He had so lovingly selected and taught and LIVED with and LOVED so personally and so deeply – were going to desert Him and act as though they never knew Him… He knew that those people who had SEEN so much of Him – His very Divinity in fact through His miracles and signs – would be so fickle as to turn away from Him only HOURS after telling Him that they would die for Him…


And what did He do in response to such an impending heartbreak and betrayal?


Did He throw them out for their coming affront? Did He mock them? Did He ridicule them? Did He shut them out?


No…


He broke the bread and blessed the wine and GAVE them – GAVE US – His Precious Body and Blood for ALL TIME. And He took them with Him into the Garden of Gethsemane and He gave them a chance to prove Him wrong and He told them to pray so that they would be prepared…

“Then Jesus went with His disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with Him, and He began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then He said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”… ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’” (Matthew 26:36-41).

The fifth Luminous Mystery of the Most Holy Rosary commemorates the Institution of the Blessed Eucharist and the first Sorrowful Mystery of the Most Holy Rosary commemorates the Agony in the Garden…


Now the Luminous Mysteries are the newest mysteries of the Rosary as instituted by Pope Saint John Paul II. And because they are new – and I did not memorise them while I was still a schoolgirl because they were not at that time instituted – I am less familiar with them. But I have come to realise that they are no less profound… You see – in instituting the Blessed Eucharist with FULL knowledge not only of the suffering that was to come from His enemies, but also through the suffering that was to come from His friends – Christ showed us the luminous mystery of His profound LOVE for us…


Even knowing that He was to be betrayed three times before the cock crowed, Christ STILL gave every part of Himself to us – the very people who were to betray Him. He gave us His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Blessed Eucharist.


And in giving all of Himself to us He was content to accept less than NOTHING in return. For we have not even the decency to repay Him with nothing… No. We repay Him by betraying and torturing Him.


And when I was thinking of that the other day, it occurred to me that I, myself, had denied Him more than three times before that rooster had crowed…


And when I think of that betrayal the only think I can do is turn my broken heart back to Him and beg Him to give me just a little bit more – for I beg Him to give me Grace – for without His Grace I can do nothing to please Him…


And so – prostrate before the Cross – I beg the Sacrificial Lamb to be merciful to me a sinner and forgive me all my sins…


And I beg for that – while I listen to the cock crow…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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