Memorial of the New Martyrs

To watch the Prayer for the New Martyrs from the Church of Sant’Egidio click here.

John 13:21-33, 36-38

After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, ‘Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘Do quickly what you are going to do.’ Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, ‘Buy what we need for the festival’; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.”

Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus answered, ‘Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterwards.’ Peter said to him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.

Jesus knows well that his “hour” is approaching – that of his death are resurrection. Jesus’ heart is crowded with conflicting, emotions: he does not want to die, but neither does he want to flee. The hour of his departure from this world to the Father has come: he is about to leave this world. What will it be of the little group of disciples that he gathered, cared for, loved, and taught? Will they be able to continue being together? Jesus knows that 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 great sadness that Jesus says to the apostles: “One of you will betray me.” Everyone is dismayed. Indeed, it is not enough to be close to Jesus physically. What count is whether our hearts are close to him and we take part in his plan of salvation. We too may live in the community of the disciples, following its rhythms of life, but if we do not follow the word of the Lord with our heart, if we do not practice the love for the poor concretely, if there is no communion with our brothers and sisters, if there is no commitment for a world of justice and peace, our heart will slowly get farther, our mind will obnubilate and we will lose sight of the Lord’s loving dream. And while our gaze on Jesus decreases its focus, our “ego” grows more and more. What was love for Jesus becomes worship for ourselves and our things. Then it becomes natural to slip into betrayal. The battle between good and evil – between trust and distrust – is played out in our heart. And there can be no compromise. This is what happened to Judas. 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.