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Reflection for Wednesday of Holy Week

Listen to a reflection on John 13.21-32, the gospel reading set for Wednesday of Holy Week, 31 March 2021

Reading
John 13.21-32

Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, ‘Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples – the one whom Jesus loved – was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘Do quickly what you are going to do.’ Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, ‘Buy what we need for the festival’; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.’

Reflection

Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, ‘Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.

Have you ever experienced the betrayal of someone close to you? Have you ever been the one who betrayed the trust and confidence of another? These are very challenging questions, and they are ones that have a special relevance today.

When we form a close attachment to someone we go on a journey that involves us in the process of making ourselves increasingly vulnerable. Layer by layer we allow someone to get closer and closer as we let them into the secrets of our inner thoughts and our most intimate experiences. We give that person unfettered access to information that is so privileged that it may not be shared by any other person in the world. We allow that person to know us in a way that is only shared by God. But, how do we feel, how do we cope, if that level of trust and confidence is then betrayed? How do we feel, how do we cope, when we find that our innermost secrets have been used as a weapon against us? How do we feel when we have been betrayed by our closest friend?

As historians and documentary makers look back on the way our country journeyed through the twentieth century, there are often references to the names of Burgess, Maclean, Philby and Blunt. We do not need much more explanation than the statement of their names. Their heinous crime was one of betrayal. They betrayed the secrets of our country in a way that undermined our national security and cost the lives of those working to make our lives safe. Out of the many, many notable lives that were lived in the course of those one hundred years these four names stand out because of the nature of their crime. They were traitors; they betrayed the trust that had been invested in them; they callously set aside the confidence of others to further their own agenda. Just like Judas!

We can be sure that Judas had constructed a convincing argument for his actions in the days leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion. He had undoubtedly created a whole story to justify his betrayal of his teacher, friend and Messiah. But that justification was based on human wisdom alone. Judas had seen the signs and heard the teaching, and yet he took the decision to betray. We face the same temptation on many occasions in our lives. We may not be a Burgess, Maclean, Philby or Blunt but every time we let someone down we are betraying them; we are causing hurt and pain; we may even be creating the agony of crucifixion!

Let us pray that God will keep us constant in our faith in him, and in the faith we have in each other. Let us pray that we might not join the register of those who will only be known for their lack of faith.