Monday, April 10, 2017

JUDAS AND PETER


April 11th, 2017: John 13:21-35, 36-38.

          “One of you will betray me,” Jesus says. Here, as in many of the gospel readings we have been hearing as Lent proceeds to its climax on Good Friday, we see that Jesus remains in charge. His passion and death were not imposed on him. He accepted them freely. Jesus knows in advance that he will be betrayed. And he knows his betrayer. In a final gesture of love for one of his chosen circle of intimate friends, Jesus reaches out to Judas Iscariot by offering him a morsel of food from the common dish. At this point, the writer tells us, “Satan entered him.” Yet Jesus continues to act with sovereign freedom, telling Judas: “What you are going to do, do quickly.”

          “And it was night,” the writer tells us. Yet even now, in what might be considered his darkest hour, Jesus’ faith lights up the darkness. “Now is the Son of Man glorified,” he cries out, “and God is glorified in him.” How thrilling those words are, and how magnificent.

          There was another betrayer at that table in the upper room. With characteristic impetuosity he pledges loyalty even unto death: “I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus knew that Peter could not match those words with deeds. “The cock will not crow before you deny me three times,” he tells Peter.
          We know the sequel. Despairing of forgiveness, Judas compounds his guilt by adding suicide to betrayal. Peter washes away his betrayal with tears of penitence to fulfill the destiny Jesus had foretold for him: to become, through his faith, the Church’s rock, and one of her earliest martyrs.

          I repeat something I have told you before: every saint has a past; every sinner has a future. Praised be God through Jesus Christ his Son!