Good morning, happy Holy Tuesday, and many blessings.
Today’s Gospel (John13:21-33.36-38) is a sad moment: double betrayal. “Will you lay down your life for me?” These words of Jesus are particularly sobering. In this passage, Jesus predicts that not only one, but two of His Apostles will fall.
First, that of Judas. Judas is no outsider but one of the inner circle of the Twelve. Jesus announces solemnly: “One of you is going to hand me over.” The statement comes like a bombshell. For all their weaknesses, they cannot imagine any one of them planning such a thing. Peter asks the Beloved Disciple, who is closest to Jesus (in every sense of the word) to find out who it is. “It is the one to whom I hand the piece of bread after dipping it in the dish,” says Jesus.
Jesus hands over the morsel, a symbol of sharing. It is probably part of the bitter herb, dipped in salt water which was a feature of the Passover meal. Jesus hands it over to the one who will hand him over to those who wish to be rid of him. This is an act of friendship which makes the coming betrayal doubly treacherous. The bitterness of the morsel is also significant.
In that very moment Judas knows he has made his fateful decision as Jesus tells him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” None of the other disciples realized the significance of the words.
As soon as he has left, it is no wonder that the evangelist comments: “Night had fallen.” Yes indeed. It was a moment of utter darkness. This is a gospel which constantly contrasts light and darkness. Yet at that very moment which sets the whole passion experience in motion, Jesus speaks of his being glorified and of God also being glorified.
To do this, Jesus is going to leave his disciples. He will leave them in death, but he will also leave them to return to the glory of God.
Peter, well-meaning but weak, swears that he will go all the way with Jesus, even to death. It is the second betrayal. Worse in some ways. At least Judas made no wild promises. What will save Peter will be the depth of his repentance and later conversion.
We too have betrayed Jesus and those around us so many times. We have broken bread with Jesus in the Eucharist and then turned our back on him by the way we treat those around us. We have promised at confession with his help never to sin again and then gone and done what we have just confessed.
When have we, like Peter, told Jesus that we would be willing to do anything for Him, only to renege on our promises later. Maybe there was a Lenten promise that was given up in a moment of weakness. Whatever it may be, we can have all the zealousness of Peter, but it is hard to truly lay down our lives for God. We all fall at one time or another.
Let us pray that we, like Peter, may weep bitterly for all the wrongs we have done and all the good left undone.