Daily Reflection – 4/7/2020
When he had said this, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant. One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’s side. So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. He leaned back against Jesus’s chest and said to him, “Master, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.” So he dipped the morsel and [took it and] handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After he took the morsel, Satan entered him. So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” [Now] none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or to give something to the poor. So he took the morsel and left at once. And it was night. When he had left, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. [If God is glorified in him,] God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.” Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?” Jesus answered [him], “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.” Peter said to him, “Master, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.” (John 13:21-33, 36-38)
Betrayal. Denial. Rejection. Darkness. Forgiveness. Understanding. Love. Light.
Today’s scripture is a gamut of emotions. Girdling all of it is love. Because without love, there cannot be betrayal and rejection. And without love, there cannot be forgiveness.
In my early years of ministry, I did a lot of marital counseling. In the course of that, I counseled couples and individuals who felt betrayed and denied. Betrayal is horrible! It is one of the most painful experiences in life, especially if the person who betrayed you was someone you loved and trusted, a person that you believed also cared about you. I felt their pain and strove to bring them back to a place where they could see light rather than only dark.
Today, we are reminded that it was Christ who suffered first. It was He who underwent betrayal, humiliation, and torture, before any of us could experience pain, rejection, or discomfort of any sort. No act of humbling sacrifice can compare to that of a God who chose to become one of us and embraced what most of us would avoid.
Christ’s passion is also a source of hope for those who truly suffer, especially those who do not have any choice – the sick, lost, and poor among us. Knowing that we will all face our trials and tribulations; Jesus constantly prepares us and gives us strength just as He prepared His disciples in the Last Supper.
Jesus still gives His life for him. We would think that someone who is so evil and who will not repent, should be cast off and destroyed, but even for such a person, God still loves him. That is because God does not compartmentalize His love. Even for those who reject Him, God’s love remains.
At times in our lives, we also have been hurt, disappointed, perhaps betrayed by someone we loved. What a gift it is that we can turn to Jesus when we are broken by betrayal or deceit. No matter what we experience in life, Jesus has trod the path before us. He understands. He loves us and longs to walk with us!
I think that should bring us a lot of hope, if we ever think that we are so marred by our sins, that we might wonder if God could ever love us. Even if we do not repent like Judas, God still loves us with all of His heart. We can have the confidence to know that, no matter what, God will always receive us back into His loving arms, because even if we are not willing to lay down our lives for Jesus, He has already laid down His life for us.
Prayer of The Day
“Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart which no unworthy thought can drag downwards; an unconquered heart which no tribulation can wear out; an upright heart which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow upon me also, O Lord my God, understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” (Prayer of Thomas Aquinas)
As we make the journey of Christ’s Passion in this season of the pandemic, it is time to release our grip on the sins that we cling to in fear or shame. Instead, let us cling to the mercy of Christ. Jesus himself faced many forms of sin, especially during his Passion, including betrayal, denial, and abandonment by his own friends. Yet the church says emphatically that at this dark hour, Jesus gives his life and “becomes the source from which the forgiveness of our sins will pour forth inexhaustibly”. Turn to Jesus in this time of trial. His love is enduring. His love is strengthening. His love is all forgiving.