( A commentary on John 13:21-33, 36-38)
Daily Reflection – 3/30/2021
Reclining at table with his disciples, 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 Judas 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, Judas 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 I not 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)
The darkness of that night seemed pervasive. Jesus has his last supper with those he loved. Among them were two who would betray him. Judas would hand him over to his death, Peter would betray him as well. The two betrayals were quite different though. Judas’ was one of calculation, Peter’s one of weakness.
In that story, lies each of us . . . perhaps at different points on the spectrum. We too have betrayed Jesus and those around us many times. It is not simply Jesus and his love that we betray. We betray ourselves. Every betrayal of Jesus betrays ourselves. We hand ourselves over to the night, betraying our life to death, our love to self-interest, and our hope to despair. We turn away from the light, the source of our life, and once again Jesus is troubled in spirit.
Yet, there is so much in the actions of Jesus that brings us hope. Even knowing that Judas would not turn back to Him and repent, 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.
Just think, if you knew ahead of time that someone was going to betray you, would you invite them in for an intimate gathering—as your friends, no less? And this is not even just an intimate gathering, but it is the last supper! Jesus is giving His life to His Apostles in this first Eucharistic meal.
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.
Jesus is calling us out of the dark and into the light. Even though there is darkness all around, God’s light still abides. Come out of your dark tomb. Whatever shame is in your heart, whatever guilt you carry, however dead you feel, nothing you have done or ever could do can separate you from the love of God. Come into the light, even if it hurts your eyes. Come into the light, even if it blinds you at first. Come into the truth. Walk in the light of God’s love. Take a deep breath and live the new life, the resurrection life that God is giving you today.
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)
When you and I look at our lives, we see many things we would like to change. We would like to believe more deeply, forgive more easily, love with fewer conditions. But when we try to move in that positive direction, we often fall short. This is why it is crucial for us to believe that God can change us, that God is able to alter the terms of our relationship, that God can make us new.
God is calling us to a new relationship. We enter into that new relationship when we entrust ourselves to God, when we admit our weakness and inability to change, and ask God to transform us. When we say Lord, “I have been so hurt by that person that I cannot bend to forgive. I need you to bend me, so that I can let go of this hate. Lord, I am so quick to judge others because of their race, sexual orientation, or political viewpoint, and that fills me with anger. Lord, I need you to quiet those prejudices, so that I can live in peace again.” He lives for us and beckons us to a new life with him.