Petrine drawl

The antiphon at the Magnificat today is quite interesting. Briefly, using Mt. 26, 73, the Office allows us to hear the voice of the high priest’s maidservant calling out Saint Peter.

Antiphona ad Vesperas - Feria IV Maioris Hebdomadae

The maidservant said to Peter: Surely thou also art one of them; for even thy speech doth discover thee.

Bloch - Verleugnung Jesu durch Petrus (fragment)
Peters fornægtelse | Carl Heinrich Bloch | 1873

Let’s translate it into modern colloquial Tagalog. Imagine a chimay, let’s name her Inday, hearing over the evening news that members of an accused narco-outfit are at large after their boss suffered arrest following a successful but bogus drug buy-bust operation. She even catches a few minutes of an interview of said drug lord, before she goes out, perhaps to buy prepaid load from Aling Bebang, or to meet Dodong at the vacant lot next block. En route she overhears a group of tambay chattering their woes away. Eavesdropping, she hears one tambay joke about another tambay having worked for the drug boss whom the evening news reported arrested; and notices the other tambay firmly, with swearwords and expletives not recordworthy here, denying it, for fear of tokhang. Realising that that tambay speaks with the same drawl as the dubiously arrested drug boss, she calls him out saying:

Isa ka nga talaga sa kanila! Kasi kahit punto mo pa lang buking ka na!

Let us allow this somewhat familiar scene sink in, and then we can perhaps understand the fear welling up in Saint Peter’s heart at the thought of being lynched with the blessing of the authorities. Elsewhere has been expressed the opinion that the Lord was a victim of an extrajudicial killing. Absence of a fair trial, sentence never pronounced, jury tampering, all the kicks were present enough to miscarry justice.

Saint Peter was a Galilean. He was from Galilee. He spoke Galilean. What gave Saint Peter away, therefore, was his speech, his drawl, his twang, his accent. In the same speech he had used to assure Christ that he would not abandon Him, Saint Peter denied that he knew the Man being led to trial. He even swore. He even cursed. Our Lord knew that Peter would deny Him. He prophesied it. Saint Peter saw Christ robed in glory atop Mount Tabor. Abandoned, in chains, meek as a lamb led to slaughter, the Lord’s appearance that evening could not be reconciled by Peter with His glory in the Transfiguration. Peter did not recognise the state to which the Lord had allowed Himself to be cast. He could not accept it. And so he denied knowing Him. And so he repented these three denials when he remembered the words of the Lord.

Ut in omnibus laudetur Dominus.


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