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 afterward.” 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.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
In this Gospel passage are three different reactions to Christ’s impending passion. The first is from Judas who leaves the light and enters into the night. The second is the beloved disciple who reclines by Jesus, settling into the Lord’s love. The third is Peter who ardently cries out his desire to follow Christ, even if it means sacrificing his life.
I think there is something of these three reactions in all of us. Suffering does not build character; it reveals it as we enter more fully into Christ’s passion. And, as we follow St. Ignatius’s counsel to ask for the grace to experience the shame and confusion of the cross in our own lives, our own character gets revealed. The cross shows who we really are. Whether we’ve fled to darkness or been quick to promise faithfulness yet slow to fulfill it, the cross holds us up to the light. Whether we are resting in Christ’s loving embrace or far from it, as the shadows fall and the weight of the cross presses on our shoulders, we discover who we are.
And who are we? When we look at ourselves reflected in the passion of the cross, what do we see? Loved sinners. Failed and broken ones, precisely the ones Christ chose to die for. Resting or running, shouting or silent, it all only finds meaning in light of Christ’s sacrificial love, a love that enters into sin and death only to transform it into life.
How do I react when I experience the shame and confusion of the cross in my day-to-day life? And how does Christ react when I share in the experience of His cross?
—Cyril Pinchak, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic teaching English at University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy, Detroit MI. He is also a published poet.
Here I am, good and gentle Jesus, kneeling before you. With great fervor I pray and ask you to instill in me genuine convictions of faith, hope, and love, with true sorrow for my sins and a firm resolve to amend them. As I contemplate your five wounds with great love and compassion, I remember the words which the prophet David long ago put on your lips: “They have pierced my hands and my feet, I can count all my bones.” (Psalm 22/17-18).