Michiel van der Borch: Last Supper Christ gives a piece of bread to Judas
Koninklijke Bibliotheek, The Hague, 1332
Readings for Mass
First Reading: Isaiah 49:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15,17
Gospel: John 13:21-33, 36-38
After Judas received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do (NRSV, Jn 13:27).”
Father, how easy for us to keep our distance from Judas. To us, he is the consummate doer of evil. But, if we read on just a bit, we find Jesus confronting Peter and warning him, against Peter’s protests, that he will deny him. And then, shortly afterwards, in the garden, every one of the others flees. Jesus goes to his death betrayed, denied and abandoned. In the first three gospels there is no one at the foot of the cross to comfort the dying Jesus. Only the holy women watched from afar. True, in John’s gospel, his mother, the beloved disciple, and the two other Marys are there but their presence is clearly for a symbolic reason. John has the Church begin, not on Pentecost, but from the Cross.
And so Jesus was alone as he lay dying, with only you, his Father, to comfort him as you vindicated the just man in the 22nd psalm. It was not only Judas but all of Jesus’ disciples who finally turned away from him. And we too betray, deny and abandon, every time that we turn away in sin.
Yet in our sinfulness, Jesus never abandons us. The Word remains ever present to us, in the worst of sin, always offering us your forgiveness, Father, and challenging us to accept the Holy Spirit once more into our lives.
Father, keep us ever mindful of the great love that you show us in your Word who became a human being to be with us, not only at our innermost being, but to be present visibly showing us the way to you.
Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.