Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tuesday of Holy Week

(Isaiah 49:1-6; John 13:21-33.36-38)

In today’s passage from the Gospel of John, Jesus predicts Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial.  In the telling, Jesus is dismissive of both disciples.  He orders Judas to carry out quickly the evil that has entered his heart.  And he cuts short Peter’s bravado about laying down his life for him.  At later points in the Gospel of Luke, not John, Jesus shows mercy to each.

When Judas approaches Jesus in the garden, Luke portrays him attempting to kiss the Lord.  Jesus interrupts this show of hypocrisy by calling his name.  He is not defending himself but allowing Judas a last opportunity to repent of his treachery.  Shakespeare will have Caesar make the same kind of appeal to Brutus.  Tragically, Judas fails to show remorse.  Peter, however, is able to change his course of action in a parallel situation.  Luke situates Jesus in vicinity of Peter when the latter denies him.  Most of us would probably turn our heads away in disgust if we were in Jesus’ position.  But Jesus mercifully turns to look at Peter.  This gesture, reminding Peter of Jesus’ prediction, causes him to weep in regret. 

There are many differences in the four narratives of Jesus’ passion.  They should not make us fret about which is accurate.  Rather they should move us to contemplate all that Jesus means.  He is the merciful face of God whom especially Luke tells of.  He is also the divine king that John relates.  And he is much more besides.  We want to spend time meditating on him this week, recommitting ourselves to him, and beseeching his grace.