John 13:21-33, 36-38. The betrayal of Jesus is foretold
Jesus knows well that his hour is approaching – his death is not far off. Jesus’ heart is crowded with different, even conflicting, emotions: he does not want to die, but neither does he want to flee. Either way, the hour of his departure from this world to the Father has come. He is aware of it and wants to face it without vacillation. His soul is troubled by his disciples’ reaction. What will be of the little group of disciples that he gathered, cared for, loved, and taught? Will they be able to continue being together? Will they be strong enough to continue his work? The first very serious problem has already arisen: Judas is about to betray him. This disciple does not care that Jesus bent down to wash his feet. With feet that have been washed, touched, and maybe even kissed by Jesus, Judas is about to go out to betray his teacher. It is with inexpressible sadness that Jesus says to the apostles: “One of you will betray me.” Everyone is dismayed: the traitor is among them, the most intimate, closest friends. Jesus’ words are truly disturbing. Obviously it is not enough to be close to him physically. What count is whether our hearts are close to him, whether our feelings are like his, and whether we take part in his loving plan. We may even stay close to Jesus, following some devotional practices and continuing our religious rites and habits, but if we do not follow the word of the Lord with our heart, if we do not concretely practice love for the poor, if there is no concrete communion with our brothers and sisters, and if we do not commit ourselves to his vision for a world of justice and peace, then our heart drifts away, our minds become clouded, and we lose sight of the Lord’s loving dream. Clearly while Jesus’ face is obscured, our ego grows, along with our greed and selfishness. What had been love for Jesus is transformed into an obsession with ourselves and our possessions. Then it becomes natural to slip into betrayal. The battle between good and evil – between love and distrust – is played out in our heart. And there can be no compromise. During these days, more than asking us to serve him, Jesus asks us to be near him, to accompany him, and not to leave him alone. If anything, he urges us to be attentive, not to slip into banality which keeps us from seeing those who are around us and blinds us to the evil that insinuates itself among people. Jesus tries to make the disciples understand this. But, starting with Peter, they do not understand. They are caught up in themselves and they do not allow their hearts to be touched by Jesus’ words. Betrayal comes from a heart that does not listen. If we put the words of the Gospel aside, our words, our thoughts, and our feelings prevail. We become capable even of selling Jesus. We all need to be vigilant. Even though Peter and the other disciples who stayed with Jesus that night said they would be faithful to him till death, they betrayed him a few days later. We cannot rely on ourselves; we must entrust ourselves to the Lord’s love and protection every day.