Tuesday of Holy Week
(Isaiah 49:1-6; John 13:21-33.36-38)
Today’s gospel juxtaposes Judas and Peter, especially their sins against the Lord. Jesus predicts both offenses – Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial. Does it distinguish the gravity of the two offenses? Some say “no,” but the passage indicates that Judas’ transgression is the greater. It says that “Satan entered him,” not as an excuse for Judas as we sometimes say that “Satan made me do it.” Rather, by conjuring Satan, the Prince of Darkness, the evangelist signifies the depth of Judas’ evil. He deliberately handed over the Savior, preferring darkness to light.
Peter, on the other hand, will sin out of fear. There is almost risible irony in how he boasts in the reading that he will lay down his life for Jesus and how at the high priest’s house he will deny that he is Jesus’ disciple. Under duress his courage fails him. Again, this is not an excuse as he was quite aware of the seriousness of the occasion, yet he succumbs in the test.
We are tempted as both Judas and Peter. Some people actively participate in abortions, the killing of the innocent for at least sometimes no reason other than convenience. That, we may say, approaches Judas’ treachery. Others out of intense desire or compromising fear do things they know to be wrong. This is a sin more of the order of Peter’s. We need to recognize that Jesus’ Paschal sacrifice can save us from both kinds of offenses. Indeed, through his death and resurrection these sins may not only be forgiven, they may also be avoided.