Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Today's readings and reflection

FIRST READING  (Isaiah 49:1-6)
Listen to me, O coastlands, and hearken, you peoples from afar. The Lord called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away.

And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”

But I said, “I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the Lord, and my recompense with my God.”

And now the Lord says, who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honoured in the eyes of the Lord, and my God has become my strength - he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

GOSPEL  (John 13:21-33, 36-38)
When Jesus had thus spoken, he was troubled in spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”

The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke.

One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus; so Simon Peter beckoned to him and said, “Tell us who it is of whom he speaks.”

So lying thus, close to the breast of Jesus, he said to him, “Lord, who is it?”

Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I shall give this morsel when I have dipped it.”

So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the money box, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the feast”; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel, he immediately went out; and it was night.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified; if God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?”

Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow afterward.”

Peter said to him, “Lord, why cannot I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”

Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the cock will not crow, till you have denied me three times.”

Betrayal and faltering loyalty to Jesus - Servants of the Word

Love & Envy: exploring the psychology of Judas - Alexander Lucie-Smith

One of you will betray me - Fr Erbin Fernandez 
During the Passover meal, Jesus made a solemn declaration that one of his own disciples would betray him. Reclining at table (the Greek style of dining of the day), John leaned his head on Jesus’ chest in anguish. Just as Jesus reposed in the heart of the Father, the disciple abided in the bosom of the Lord. Although Judas was preparing to betray him, as a last gesture of love Jesus handed him a morsel of bitter herbs dipped in salt water (a symbol of the tears shed by the slaves in Egypt). Judas took the offering and quickly departed. To illustrate Judas’ dark deed, John wrote poignantly, “and it was night” (v.30). Jesus warned Peter that he would also betray him by denying knowledge of him. Peter protested that he would lay down his life for his Master, but Jesus knew that Peter would fail him. It was left to Jesus to make this final journey alone. Am I able to reconcile with someone whom I have hurt or who has injured me? Lord Jesus, forgive me for the many ways I betray your love.

This scene of the gospel is replayed in every Eucharistic celebration over and over again – is it not? Some of us come to the Eucharist without clearly discerning whether we eat of the bread and drink of the cup worthily. I am not here just referring to the situation of being in a state of sin to some extent we are all in a state of original sin that marks us for life. But rather have we discerned the call to be at the Eucharist as followers of the Lord who will `Do this in memory of Him`. This is the more important consideration for us do we feel the pain of the people of Syria who are being killed in a most gruesome manner by chemical attack. Does it weigh heavy on our hearts as we receive the Eucharist that we are called to serve them in some way – if not we betray the Lord. If you did not serve the least of my brothers and sisters, you did not serve me. Or have I become too over -confident like Peter and I am not aware that I need to lean on Christ. Either position is untenable for us as Christians. Let us humble ourselves like John the Beloved in this Holy Week.

We cannot reflect on the passion, the suffering of Jesus, or the meaning of the Cross without bumping into Judas. We would rather not - but he’s unavoidable. He is at the heart of the story: Judas the betrayer, Judas the enigma. The Lord chose him, along with the other eleven disciples, after spending a whole night in prayer. Judas lived and travelled with Jesus and the other eleven every day for three years, hearing all that amazing teaching, and witnessing Jesus’ miracles of love. He was there in the upper room when Jesus washed their feet - HIS feet! Jesus loved Judas without reservation. After all of this, Judas betrayed Jesus.

This was in fulfilment of Scripture. Jesus quotes Psalm 41:9. David, the Psalmist, had a lot of people who hated him and throughout his life he experienced many hardships. But in verse 9 he says “even my close friend, the one I trusted and shared my bread with has lifted up his heel against me.” This is the deepest pain of all. Not just an enemy but a close and trusted friend.

There are many dimensions to the story of Judas. There are many mysteries too. But one thing is clear, and certainly not trivial. Betrayal is a massive part of the human experience, undoubtedly the ugliest aspect of human relationships. Sooner or later we all experience it. Jesus is our great High Priest, “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” - ALL the infirmities a broken sin-sick world can throw at us - including the pain of betrayal.

My Father, 
I abandon myself to you.
Do with me as you will.
Whatever you may do with me I thank you.
I am prepared for anything.
I accept everything,
provided your will is fulfilled in me
and in all creatures.
I ask for nothing more, my God.
I place my soul in your hands.
I give it to you, my God,
with all the love of my heart,
because I love you.
And for me it is a necessity of love,
this gift of myself,
this placing of myself in your hands
without reserve in boundless confidence,
because you are my Father.
Charles de Foucauld (1858-1916)


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