Tuesday, March 22 –Laura Gravener
Gospel: JN 13:21-33, 36-38
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’ side.
So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant.
He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him,
“Master, who is it?”
“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.”
Mercy in the Face of Betrayal
Have you ever been betrayed by someone in your life? If so, you can likely clearly recall the deep pain that you felt along with that betrayal. Why does betrayal hurt so badly? As a priest at a recent retreat that I attended pointed out, betrayal usually comes from someone we deeply care about … someone in whom we have put trust and confidence. It’s not our enemies who betray us; it’s not our acquaintances who betray us. We don’t expect their love, trust and loyalty. Implicit in the idea of betrayal is that it comes from a friend.
In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus recognizing that he will be betrayed by Judas … a man who spent many years by his side, a man that he taught, a man with whom he conversed, a man with whom he shared his thoughts and feelings, a man that he loved. This dear friend is the man who hands Jesus over to his crucifiers. Could there be a greater betrayal than this? As if that was not bad enough, minutes later, Jesus predicts that his beloved Peter will deny him -- not once, but 3 times.
Recalling how you have felt after being betrayed in your own life, imagine the deep, penetrating pain that Jesus must have felt as result of the actions of Judas and Peter. As sinful humans, what is our natural response to betrayal? We want to get even, condemn, gossip, or maybe even run away. It is, after all, quite possibly the worst hurt another could cause us. But, how does Jesus respond to the ultimate betrayal? He accepts it, forgives and continues to love his betrayers.
To me, this Gospel speaks clearly to theme of mercy in this jubilee year declared by Pope Francis. Every time we sin, we betray Jesus. Yet, we know that he forgives us. His reaction to Judas and Peter’s betrayal serves as a powerful example of the extent of Jesus’ mercy and reminds us that no matter how much pain we have caused him, Jesus will show us the same love and acceptance that he showed to Judas and Peter. What a comforting thought!Jesus also gives us an example of how we should react to those who betray us. The question he asks Peter is also directed to us … “Will you lay down your life for me?” I interpret this as Jesus asking us to lay down or set aside our natural human responses not only to the small hurts that other cause us, but also to the very large hurts that others cause us, and to show the same compassion and mercy to our betrayers as Jesus showed to his. In other words, we are challenged to be the face of Jesus even to those who hurt us the most and thereby let them see the mercy of God through our actions. Jesus, give us the strength to show others the same mercy you showed in the face of the ultimate betrayal.
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