Today’s reading is John 13:21-38 (NABRE):
Announcement of Judas’s Betrayal.
21 When he had said this, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” 22 The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant. 23 One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side. 24 So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. 25 He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, “Master, who is it?” 26 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. 27 After he took the morsel, Satan entered him. So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” 28 [Now] none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him. 29 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. 30 So he took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.
The New Commandment.
31 When he had left, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 [If God is glorified in him,] God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. 33 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. 34 I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. 35 This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Peter’s Denial Predicted.
36 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.” 37 Peter said to him, “Master, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 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.”
“I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (John 13:34). These words, known as the Great Commandment, are often stated so frequently that we can lose sight of the depth of the challenge they posit to us. Jesus’ words are more than telling us to care deeply for other people. Rather, he calls us to love as he does; he wants us to love in a divine way. For me, this passage is a beautiful reminder of the danger of complacency. Each day. we are called to strive for something bigger than ourselves. Not only this, however, but we are called to project a sentiment that truly unites people unlike any other: love. It’s interesting that this passage in John directly follows the passage of the announcement of Judas’ betrayal. Jesus directly acknowledges that he is about to die, yet he still focuses on his immense love for all people.
During this Lenten season, I like to take time to reflect on Jesus’ words to Judas after he announces the betrayal. Jesus says, “What you are going to do, do quickly” (John 13:27). It is such a natural instinct for me to immediately become defensive when someone has wronged me. It seems that it would be so easy for Jesus to try to convince Judas at this moment how important he is and how he deserves to live. In other words, Jesus is confronted with an opportunity in which he could have pleaded for his life, yet he does not. Thus, the extent of his trust in God is truly inspiring.
Immediately after Jesus gives his Great Commandment, we hear of Peter’s denial being predicted. Peter falls into the trap discussed above; when faced with dire circumstances, his natural instinct is to fall back on that which will protect himself physically. This passage reminds me how active our faith is. It is one thing to express beliefs and sentiments through words. Yet, it is only when we transcend the words and let our actions reflect our spirit that we begin to live as Jesus does. Let us pray that we can draw closer to God in the challenge of practicing what we preach this Lenten season.
This passage has also allowed me to reflect on my Lenten sacrifices thus far. I strive to fast from certain things without it being known. There’s something quite beautiful in keeping sacrifices internal; when we seek attention for our good deeds, we lose the sense that God is the only one who can provide the rewards we need. Let us pray that we may not seek temporary, earthly rewards but focus on the greater reward in heaven. Even in the midst of passages about denial and betrayal, we are told of Jesus’ infinite love. Let us find hope in this love and strive to reflect it in all we do and say.
Anne Marie Crinnion ’20 is a Freshman living in Thayer Hall.