Intentions: That all people will turn away from sin, living instead with compassion and justice, and embracing God’s gifts of faith, hope, and love.
Today’s Gospel | John 13:21-33, 36-38
Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant. One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side. So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, “Master, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.” So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him. So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or to give something to the poor. So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.
When he had left, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.”
Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.” Peter said to him, “Master, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.”
A Lenten Reflection
The narrative of Jesus’ last night before his passion ends with some of the darkest scenes in all of scripture. He must face all at once the duplicity of one his Apostles, the immanence of his own suffering and death, and the likelihood that most of his followers will scatter in weakness and confusion. For the reader, even knowing who Jesus Christ is does not lessen our wonder at how he endured those last few days. As it turns out, the Son of God’s strength was coming from a very simple place.
If we believe that Jesus was both fully God and fully man, then we must accept that, as a man, he could know doubt and fear. The story of the agony in the garden makes this clear. How did Jesus rise above it? Why did he accept humiliation and torment that he very easily could have escaped with a few well-chosen words? Jesus went to the cross because it was the only way in which he could be true both to the Father and to himself. Faced with the choice of whether or not to remain faithful to his identity and to his mission, there really was no choice. It was about integrity, not just in acting righteously, but in defining righteousness for us and for the world.
In his book, The Philosophy of Despair, scientist David Jordan wrote, “Wisdom is knowing what to do next; virtue is doing it.” Integrity is the contact point between understanding and action, between knowing what goodness is and to behave as a good person. During Lent, as we take time to reflect on how we choose to live our lives, and especially how we are challenged by the Gospel to look for the evidence of integrity in ourselves. Jesus’ passion and death call us to our own “yes” to God, and to the responsibility of living our “yes” by always being our best and truest selves.
Eternal Father, you made your Son a light to the nations, and in his sacrifice the salvation of all people. Just as he placed his trust in you to deliver him from suffering and death to new life, be with us at all times, especially when we are anxious and confused. Lift us from despair to hope, from fear to courage, from doubt to faith, from hatred to love. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.