Photo: Giotto, "Kiss of Judas"
March 18 Tuesday of Holy Week
Readings: Is 49:1-6; Jn 13:21-33, 36-38
When He had said this, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, "Amen, amen, I say to you one of you will betray Me." Jn 13:21
Betrayal by loved ones or close friends is one of the most painful things that a human being can ever experience. In Shakespeare's play King Lear, the monarch divides his kingdom between his two older daughters only to discover too late his folly. His treacherous daughters, who now hold the power of the kingdom jointly, strip him of his retinue of knights and even refuse him shelter during a raging storm. Lear is soon reduced to wretchedness and driven mad by his daughters' betrayal.
John tells us that Jesus "was deeply troubled" when He told the disciples that one of them would betray Him. Adding insult to injury, the Master had just washed the feet of the disciples at the last Supper, giving them the example par excellence of humble service. Jesus is surely troubled by the power of unbelief and evil that is at work in Judas, who will betray Him despite this show of love.
The morsel that Jesus gives Judas before he departs into the night is also significant. Father James McPollin, SJ, notes, "This basic gesture of oriental hospitality was a token of intimacy, for the host usually invited a special guest to dip with him for food in a common dish." Yet, even this sign of affection is rejected.
As if this isn't enough, Jesus also predicts that Peter, chief of the apostles, will deny Him. The impetuous Peter replies that He will lay down his life for Jesus.
We usually think of the great physical agony that Jesus endured for us, but let's pause on this Tuesday of Holy Week and reflect on the great spiritual and emotional anguish He endured out of love for us. Betrayed by one apostle. Denied by another.
Jesus, You knew what it meant to be betrayed. You knew what it meant to be denied when You had given all out of love for Your apostles. Help me to love. Amen.
Diary of St. Faustina