MARCH 30. LENT. HOLY WEEK. WED. JN.13 21-33, 36-38
While at supper with his disciples, Jesus was troubled in spirit and declared, ‘I tell you most solemnly, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples looked at one another, wondering which he meant. The disciple Jesus loved was reclining next to Jesus; Simon Peter signed to him and said, ‘Ask who it is he means’, so leaning back on Jesus’ breast he said, ‘Who is it, Lord?’ ‘It is the one’ replied Jesus ‘to whom I give the piece of bread that I shall dip in the dish.’ He dipped the piece of bread and gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. At that instant, after Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered him. Jesus then said, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly.’ None of the others at table understood the reason he said this. Since Judas had charge of the common fund, some of them thought Jesus was telling him, ‘Buy what we need for the festival’, or telling him to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the piece of bread he went out. Night had fallen.
When he had gone Jesus said:
‘Now has the Son of Man been glorified,
and in him God has been glorified.
If God has been glorified in him,
God will in turn glorify him in himself,
and will glorify him very soon.
‘My little children,
I shall not be with you much longer.
You will look for me,
And, as I told the Jews,
where I am going, you cannot come.’
Simon Peter said, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus replied, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow me now; you will follow me later.’ Peter said to him, ‘Why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ ‘Lay down your life for me?’ answered Jesus. ‘I tell you most solemnly, before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.’
The enormity of the sufferings that was close at hand was beginning to be felt by The Son of God, a truth that is revealed by the words “Jesus was troubled in spirit”; - but I suspect what was troubling the saviour just as much as the approaching physical suffering was the emotional suffering caused by being betrayed by Judas, who had been viewed as a friend and disciple?
And, as we know, this betrayal by friends would be repeated in the coming hours when, of all people, Christ would be betrayed yet again by Peter; - the very person he had chosen to lead his Church after his death. And that would also be followed by the fact he would meet his death abandoned by nearly all his followers who had accompanied him in his entry to Jerusalem!
We need to remember, these were people Jesus knew and loved! He had taught them all and cured many of them, and his loving affection is even evident in the way he spoke in this reading; - “My little children; -I shall not be with you much longer. You will look for me, but, as I told the Jews, where I am going, you cannot come.”
It is easy to forget the only motivation for Jesus coming among us was Love, and a desire to redeem us! In the coming hours, after the events of today’s Gospel, he would show the extent of his Love by dying on a Cross. How disappointed he must have been at the way so many of his friends and followers had chosen to abandon him; - given he was to die on a cross for them?