Tuesday of Holy Week, March 30
Isaiah 49:1-6 / John 13:21-33, 36-38
Jesus talks about betrayal; The disciples were amazed at Jesus' words.The surprising thing about Judas' plan to betray Jesus is that the other disciples had no idea of it. How could they have lived so close to Judas and been so blind to what was going on in his mind? There are two lessons here. First, our external words and actions may deceive others, but they will never deceive God.
Second, the day will come when everyone will know what is in our heart. For it is a law of human nature that what is in our heart will eventually usher forth into action.
Do we really believe that God knows our innermost thoughts? What effect ought this to have on us? "Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7
Today’s gospel presents three persons to us.
The first is a man preoccupied with himself, his own interests and needs, his selfish satisfaction. He is not a free person; he is not open to Christ, for he serves money and greed. He will betray Jesus. This man is Judas.
Then there is a second man, a good person, open to Christ, but weak. He tries to hide his frailty with impetuous, self-reliant bravery. He cracks in the hour of the test. He will deny Jesus. This person is Peter.
The third person is Jesus. He is totally unselfish, completely open to God and to everyone. He is the perfect servant, the person-for-others, described again today in the first reading in the words of the second song of God’s servant. And because he was the perfect servant, he could save us all.
It is rather amazing as well disturbing to see how cold and calculating Judas was at the Last Supper. In the gospel passage that we heard (the gospel of John), there was no recorded words of Judas. He didn't say anything, he acted normal, he did what he was told. Yet, behind and beneath that facade the shadows of betrayal are lurking and slithering around. Yet for that to be happening in him during the Last Supper was unthinkable to the rest because it was for them the sacred Passover meal which celebrated the marvellous event of freedom from slavery in Egypt and the renewal of God's covenant with His people. Jesus sensed that betrayal and treachery, and troubled in spirit, He said: I tell you most solemnly, one of you will betray me. He was even more direct when He said that it was the one to whom He gave the piece of bread that He shall dip in the dish, and thereafter He gave it to Judas. Judas was the Apostle most in need of Jesus' love that night. It was the last opportunity for Judas to turn from sin and turn to Jesus. But he rejected Jesus for the final time.
During the last hours of Jesus on this earth, St. Peter learned a bitter lesson: words are cheap. All you have to do is open your mouth and let them come out, but if they are not backed up by actions they are as worthless as counterfeit money or a bad check.
At the Last Supper poor Peter opened his mouth and let the words come out. Ile said to Jesus, "1 will lay down mv life for you." At the moment he did not realize that his words were counterfeit. It was-only later, when he was challenged concerning his association with Jesus, that he realized how worthless those words were. While Jesus was standing trial before the high priest, a servant girl noticed Peter in the courtyard and accused him of being a follower of Jesus. And this man, who a few hours before had said that he would die for Jesus, said to the girl, "I don't know what You are talking about." A little later when some bystanders accused him of the same thing, he replied, "I don't even know the man you are talking about!" Then he heard the second cock crow and broke down and began to cry. It was a bitter lesson for Peter to learn.
But learn the lesson he did. Peter determined to make good his words at the Last Supper, not with a bad cheek, but with a blank check on which he would allow Jesus to fill in the amount he wished. And so it was that many years after the crucifixion Peter followed his master to a martyr's death on a cross.
If we are good Christians, we will tell Jesus that we will follow him to death rather than deny him or be disloyal to him in any way, even in little things. In fact, we should write Jesus a blank check and allow him to require any amount from us. We must remember, however, that our payment cannot be counterfeit; it must be backed up with the silver and gold of sincerity and truth.
Lord our God, your Son Jesus Christ had to undergo the humiliation of being betrayed and denied by those he called his friends. But he made his suffering and death into instruments of love and reconciliation. Make us with him people-for-others, who accept difficulties, even betrayals and misunderstanding of our best Intercessions, and turn them into sources of life and joy for those around us. Keep us faithful to you and to one another through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen