“Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me” (John 13:21). With these words we enter into the opening stages of Jesus’ final suffering and passion. We are called into that kind of prayer we call meditation here. We are invited into the mind of Jesus, aware that one of his beloved Apostles is going to betray him.
Betrayal. There are few emotional realities that are more painful. To be turned on by one that you have loved and opened yourself to in profound friendship, hurts us to the core. This is what Jesus is experiencing at this time. In his full humanity, he is experiencing the pain of this upcoming betrayal and the fears of the suffering that is to come. Things are beginning to heat up, things that will lead Jesus, eventually, to the cross. We are entering into the final three days of his life with us here on earth. His mission’s purpose is about to be fulfilled, but it will not be easy. There will be levels of suffering that we can not even imagine. And he will willingly and humbly endure this suffering, in accord with his Father’s will, in order to reveal the true depth of God’s love and concern for each and every one of us, and to accomplish his mission. It was through this suffering and death that our salvation was made full and complete.
We can also enter into the minds of the Apostles in our imagination here. What would it have been like for them to hear this from the one whom they had loved and followed so earnestly these past three years of his public ministry? We can imagine those who were truly innocent of this charge, being hurt and confused by the sting of accusation. “Me, Rabbi? How could you think that I might do something like that? I love you. I could never do such a thing.” But here we must come back to ourselves and realize that every time we sin, in little ways, and in great ways, we are betraying Jesus. We are helping to pound the nails into his hands and feet, pressing down on his crown of thorns. Yes, we do betray him in countless ways.
In fact there are two who betray Jesus, aren’t there. We always think of Judas, and rightly so. But Peter denied him three times. This, too, is a kind of betrayal. Peter’s denial was from a recognizable fear, one that we all have experienced, a fear of the potential pain, the emotional, psychological, or physical suffering that might come our way if we are in some way associated with the “accused.” Judas’ betrayal was done for love of money. Peter’s love for Jesus, and his real understanding of who Jesus really was, the Messiah, made it possible for him to seek and believe in God’s forgiveness. Because of this, he became one of the greatest of the Twelve Apostles. Judas’ mistake was that when he had realized what he had truly done, he could not forgive himself. He did not truly believe in Jesus’ love for him. He felt he was beyond forgiveness, that what he did could not be forgiven, and he took his own life. This was a sin of prideful presumption, a sin against the Holy Spirit. We are challenged here to be more like Peter. We are challenged to ask God for the grace to put our trust always in him, to lean into his love, especially when we have failed him. Why? Because, “His love is enduring” (Psalm 118:1).
Lord, we have betrayed you in our sins, but in the blessed faith you have given us, we have come to know, too, the depth of your love for us. Give us the graces we need to be always faithful to your love. Make us strong in the faith so that we may serve you humbly and joyfully in all things. We pray in your name, Jesus. Amen!
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