By Eric Myatt
When asked this question about a friend, I never imagined myself saying anything other than “Yes”. Yes, I’ve met them. Yes, I know their name. Yes, they invited me to play Candy Crush once. But recently I’m hesitant to say that I really know anyone, other than my wife Angie. At a course I took recently, I learned that the contemporary understanding of knowledge is mostly informational. What does it look like? How much does it weigh? Where is he from? What is her job? It’s quantitative and measurable. But informational knowledge is way off the mark from the biblical meaning of knowledge. The scriptural definition of knowledge has more to do with relationship than with facts and figures. It’s the difference between “We’re friends” and “Here’s the info from his driver’s license”.
This understanding was best illustrated in my class using Genesis 4:1: “Adam knew Eve and she bore him a son.” Knowing someone in this sense is intimate, relational, and creative. Of course this kind of knowing isn’t limited to sexual intimacy. But now you get why my response to “Hey, do you know such-and-such-who-isn’t-your-wife?” is a hesitant “…No?”
This relational knowledge is changing the way I’m experiencing Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, the readings at Mass outlined St. Peter’s three-fold denial of Jesus. If knowledge simply meant information about Jesus, Peter’s “I do not know the man!” (Mat. 26:72b) is similar to “I don’t know what he looks like. I don’t know his address or his father’s name. I don’t know what he likes or dislikes”.
But Peter’s denial hits harder in light of this intimate, relational, and creative understanding of knowledge. From this lens, Peter’s denial completely cuts himself off from his intimate friend. He wants nothing to do with Jesus. “I have no history with him. I have no closeness with him. My life is separate from his. And He doesn’t know me either.”
Thankfully, we know the story doesn’t end with our silent and slightly awkward exit from the church on Good Friday. Easter is only a few days away. Soon we get to the Good News. The sorry, separated state St. Peter put himself in makes the reconciliation with the post-resurrected Jesus so deep and profound. He knows Jesus again. In these most important days of the year, let’s enter into an intimate, relational, creative knowing of Jesus. This knowing during Holy Week will make our Easter joy more full and complete.