The Gospel according to John (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.”
Opening Prayer: Dear Jesus, forgive me for those times that I turn away from You and from following Your will. Help me to draw closer to You this Holy Week, and give me the grace to live as a part of Your Easter people! Amen.
Today’s Gospel is a particularly heart-breaking story along the story of Jesus. He had given so much, and taught so much to His closest followers, the Apostles. Yet, in today’s Gospel, one of them turns fully to the darkness and proceeds ahead with betraying the Lord to the leaders of the Jews.
Think of it! Just prior to the passage we read today, Jesus had washed the feet of his Apostles, showing truly that He who was God was also the servant of those who were His. Judas was there, and yet he was unmoved from the path to hand Jesus over. It is true that he was ordained to be the betrayer, but it’s easy to wonder why he was so unmoved!
Think of the times that each of us has turned away from what God has called us to do for Him. Those are times of “darkness” for each of us. Those times that we choose our own will ahead of our Lord’s have to be heartbreaking for our Lord, who wants only for us to walk close to Him, so that we can feel His love in our lives. The wonderful thing about those occasions is that we can still turn back to God and be received fully into relationship with Him again.
Maybe this Lenten journey has been one of great growth and acknowledgement that God is close, or we have been able to grow in our prayer lives such that we are having a real conversation with God each day. If that’s true for you, then give thanks to God for that gift! Ask God to help you carry that added presence into Easter, Ordinary Time and beyond! Be willing to help others of your brothers and sisters to come to do the same!
Or, perhaps this Lent has been especially hard. Maybe you have suffered losses, due to COVID, or for other reasons. Maybe you feel like you did not take enough advantage of this season, and feel like your relationship with God is a shadow of what you think it ought to be. Don’t despair! God is intimately aware that each of us is a fallible human being. Making mistakes is part of the usual course of things. What we can do, though, as followers of Jesus, is to recognize our shortcomings and those times where we have fallen short, and be reconciled to our Lord, and to make a new start. God will never cease to call us back. His well of mercy will never run dry.
As we go through this holiest week in the Catholic liturgical year, let us pause one more time and ask God to show us what one thing we can do to draw closer to Him, and what one thing we can do to draw others to be closer to Him, too. Even a small step matters! If we put out an effort that is from our hearts, God will reward that, and will allow us to feel the Easter joy that He longed to give us when He sent Jesus to us. Be open to that joy, no matter what your life may be like right now. Remember that we are an Easter people, called to live with hope and joy every day!
Closing Prayer: Jesus, thank You for giving Your life for me! Thank You for loving me so much that You would have sacrificed Yourself even if it was just for me and only me! Help me to draw closer to You and to live a life that draws others closer to You as well. Amen.
Action for the Day: Think of one experience in Your life that has brought you joy. Thank God for that experience and ask Him to help you to be a light of joy to someone else today!