John 13: 21-33, 36-38
Is 49: 1-6/ Ps 71: 1-6, 15 and 17
Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.
God tempers our fidelity
In the fire of tests and trials.
He’ll turn to good all inequities,
Even betrayals and denials.
Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Amen, amen, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain about whom He was speaking. One of His disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to Him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom He was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked Him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus replied, “It is the one to whom I give this morsel when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when He had dipped the piece of bread, He gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the morsel of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘Do quickly what you are going to do.’ Now no one at the table knew why He said this to him. Some thought that since Judas held the money bag, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast”, or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel, he immediately went out. And it was night. When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in Him. If God has been glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself and will glorify Him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’” Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterwards.” Peter said to Him, “Lord, 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? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.” (John 13:21-33,36-38)
As the time drew near for the culmination of His mission, Jesus gathered the twelve apostles for the Passover meal. But before they ate the meal, He washed their feet as His last lesson on the essential meaning of leadership (as servanthood). Then He dispatched Judas to proceed with his scheme of betrayal. After Judas had left, Jesus told them that He would be leaving them soon, Immediately, Peter reacted (as he always did), asking why he could not follow Him, even pledging to lay down his life for Him. But Jesus knew his heart, and predicted, “Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows you will have denied me three times.”
That last meal shared with His friends before His passion and death must have been the saddest experience in the life of our Lord. He knew that He was going to be betrayed by one of them. Then, another whom He had anointed to be their leader would reveal his cowardice, and deny His friendship consecutively for three times, barely a few hours after pledging that he would lay down his life for Him.
Judas has come to symbolize the height of treachery, which tragically drove him to the unpardonable sin of despair. He was no doubt a friend of Jesus, especially chosen by the Master to be the group’s treasurer. How could Judas betray such a sacred confidence and a friend like Jesus? And then Peter, whom He had exalted as the rock upon which He would build His Church– how could he jeopardize this position that Jesus bequeathed to him as the apostles’ leader, declaring his loyalty to the end for all to hear, and then denying he knew Jesus at the first sign of danger?
The case of Judas shows us how wicked a person can become because of money. But aren’t we all in danger of becoming a little like Judas whenever we put the pursuit of money (our business) above our concern to become closer to Jesus and the Father? How many stall owners in malls and markets close shop on Sundays? There too may also be a bit of Peter’s cowardice in us whenever we hesitate to stand up for Jesus or the Gospel when our friends start criticizing Church doctrines or our Catholic beliefs. How easily we justify our denials by saying we just don’t want to offend our friends.
Father, stir us when we hesitate to stand up for Jesus or His Word in our workplaces and our fellowships. Disturb our conscience should we start to sacrifice our moral values for the sake of material gain. Prevent us from ever denying Jesus. Amen.