Faithfulness and Betrayal

John 13: 21-33,36-38
Is 49: 1-6 / Ps 71: 1-6, 15, 17

Will you lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
(John 13:38)

God tempers our fidelity
In the fire of tests and trials.
He’ll turn to good all inequities,
Even betrayals and denials.

After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.” His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them He meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to Him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask Him which one He means.” Leaning back against Jesus, he asked Him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. “What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him, but no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will glorify the Son in Himself, and will glorify Him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. Simon Peter asked Him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!” (John 13:21-33, 36-38)

Reflection

As the time drew near for the culmination of our Lord’s mission, He gathered the 12 apostles for the feast of the Passover. Before they ate the meal, He washed their feet as His last lesson on the essential meaning of leadership (servanthood). Then He dispatched Judas to proceed with his scheme of betrayal. After Judas left, Jesus said, “My children, I will be with you only a little while longer… Where I am going, you cannot follow Me now, though you will follow Me later.” Peter reacted (as he always did), saying, “Master, why can’t I follow You now? I will lay down my life for You.” But Jesus knew his heart, and said, “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.”

The last meal that Jesus shared with His friends before His passion and death must have been the saddest experience of His life. 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 for us 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 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 (business) above our need 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.

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