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.”
One of the places that we were blessed to visit on our recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land was a church called St Peter Gallicantu – named so because it was where Peter denied that he even knew Jesus. It’s a church built over the ruins of the house of the high priest Caiaphas. One thing that both of us recall from that church was the beautiful carved wooden door, depicting this conversation between Jesus and Peter as we have it in today’s Gospel.
When you look at the image (which we are including with this reflection), you see how Peter is saying just what the Gospel writer recounts – that he was ready to die for Jesus. But, when you look closely at the face of Jesus, you see that He is saying by his posture that He knew that Peter wasn’t as ready as he maybe thought he was.
What does that mean, here as we are early in Holy Week and Easter is coming up this weekend? The answer is simple – if even Peter, who failed Jesus and denied that he even knew Him, but was still redeemed and restored by Jesus, then couldn’t each of us do that, too?
Jesus looks on Peter with love and longs for Him to be the good strong follower that Jesus knew Peter could be. But, Peter obviously could not do it on his own. It is the same for each of us. In our hearts, we may believe that we can be strong people of faith. But, we fail. We sin. We turn away from God. Lent is the time for us to make a new start.
We are here at the “home stretch” of Lent here in Holy Week. Lent is the time for each of us to look for how we have fallen short in our mission as a follower of Jesus, and to promise anew to begin again and to do better. One way we do that is by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and in many parishes, Lent is a wonderful time to seek that “big warm hug from God”. At our own parish of St Rita, we have that opportunity tonight at our Lenten Reconcilation service.
The point is, it’s not too late to turn again to God and to be reconciled. It’s not too late to be that “good strong follower of Jesus” that we know we can be. God is always available and the desire of His Heart is for us to turn to Him. Let us not miss that opportunity this last week of Lent. Let us do what we can to be truly ready in our hearts for Easter Joy this coming weekend!
Action for the Day: If you have received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, take time today to thank our loving, forgiving Lord for that wondrous gift! Ask God for how you can be of service to another today. And, if you haven’t yet been to Reconciliation, it’s not too late. You could even come to St Rita’s tonight for that gift (or to another parish that may be near you – if you’re not sure, call your parish office and ask!).
If you would like to hear this reflection, click the link below!