Scripture: Lectionary 259. April 3. Isaiah 49:1-6. Psalm 71:1-2.5-6.15.17. John 13:21-33,36-38
Chapter thirteen of John is one of the most profound and intimate writings in the Bible. Jesus gathers with his friends, the disciples, for the last meal he will have with them. Whether it is their own anticipation of the Passover meal or their hope to celebrate the Passover meal itself, no one knows for sure. But the scene calls to mind that it is Passover time and Jesus reclines with his circle of intimate friends. Judas and Peter and the Beloved Disciple are the ones who are mentioned in today’s liturgical passage. Judas, under the influence of the prince of darkness, has made up his mind to hand over Jesus to the authorities through the Roman soldiers. He knows the sacred places where Jesus taught his disciples how to pray. The dramatic departure of Judas is said in these few words, “It was night!” Peter will protest that he will always be with the Lord through thick and thin. Jesus who knows all that is in the human heart foretells him that he will deny him three times. The Beloved Disciple acts as an intermediary between Jesus and Peter and the other disciples who want to know who would ever think of betraying Jesus. Yet, Judas is among them. Both Judas and Peter sin by failing to love Jesus unselfishly. They centered on themselves which led to betrayal and denial.
Chapter thirteen makes it clear that the “hour” of Jesus has come. It is, in a certain sense, the hour of Satan who will have this short period of triumph over the person of Jesus through the sins of Jesus’ own friends, Judas and Peter.
Isaiah is speaking about the Suffering Servant. We can easily imagine that his words are similar to what Jesus is thinking on this Passover evening. The words seem to be a reflection of one’s life from the beginning to its end. This sometimes happens to those who are near death or have a life-threatening experience.
Psalm 71 can serve us as a way of thinking how Jesus may have prayed on this last gathering with those whom he loved. The following sentence is the theological
perspective and insight that John the Evangelist and Theologian gives us as we enter more deeply into these mysteries of Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection:
“Before the Paschal Feast began, Jesus already knew that the hour had come for his passage from this world to the Father. He continued to love those who were his own, whom he was leaving in the world, and he would give them the uttermost proof of his love.” (John 13:1).