Tuesday of Holy Week: Betrayed and abandonned by his closest friends

Tuesday of Holy Week: Betrayed and abandonned by his closest friends

Readings: Is 49:1-6; Ps 71(70):1-2.3-4a.5-6b.15.17; St John 13:21-33.36-38

We are approaching the times of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the readings are telling us more about the mood of the times that preceded Jesus’ trial. The ‘plot is slowly thickening’ and a clear outcome is taking shape: Jesus is living his last moments on earth.
During the last days, we heard the reasons why the Pharisees and the chief priests wanted Jesus dead: “it was better that one man died instead of many (in a case he would have started a revolution against the Romans who would then have taken away the land) … and also he had called himself the son of God.” But it was not only the chief priests and the Pharisees that would played a role in his arrest.Worse than that, his closest friends are going to betray him and hand him over to the chief priests.

In today’s Gospel, when Jesus says: “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it”, he did not only mean to show them who was going to betray him, but also that it was a close person, one with whom he shared food. Later when Peter professes his fidelity, Jesus tells him that he would also betray him. The entire story is already sad as Jesus feels that his last hour is approaching. But much sadder, he knows that those who should have stood by him and protected him are the ones to betray him.
In a few words, today’s readings and in the last day’s readings we understand the escalation of the events that led to Jesus. It was not because he was a criminal. It was partly because a few people did not like what he was doing and others (his friends) did not stood by him. The story that happened 2,000 years ago, still repeats itself every time human beings unjustly oppress others and many stand and watch it happen. Both are co-operators in the propagation of evil. Every time we, Christians, stand and watch the innocent oppressed, the just persecuted because of their actions, and do not intervene, we are doing exactly what Jesus’ disciples did when he was about to be killed: because we claim, like St Paul, that we would die for Christ, but when he is persecuted in the poor, in the hungry, in the refugee, in the homeless, in the unjustly condemned, we tend to deny him.
May today’s readings keep on reminding us that, as Christians, we are called to action, not to be ‘neutral observers’ when evil is being given a seat in our midst.

Gustave Ineza OP