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Am I a Peter? Am I a Judas?

– Tuesday of Holy Week –

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 the 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.’ [John 13:21-26a]

We are reminded of the famous frescoes and paintings that have depicted this scene down through the centuries. Peter asks John to ask Jesus what is going on. Jesus offers a piece of bread to a slightly bemused and distracted Judas. The remaining disciples are oblivious to the significance of what they are witnessing and chat in small groups as people do at such events. In these artistic depictions, we stand on the outside looking in; much more aware of what is happening than any of the people represented in the scene, with the exception of Jesus himself.

However, are we really on the outside looking in? Are we not the disciples relaxing and chatting among ourselves, mostly unaware of the significance of what is happening around us? Perhaps we are Peter, intent on finding out what is happening and later full of promises about what we are going to do, and then failing to deliver. Alternatively, dare we wonder, are we Judas, so clear in our minds about what needs to happen, and so willing to do anything to ensure that our plans and intentions are carried out?

Peter makes his promises and Judas his plans. Peter’s promises are spoken aloud, and while they will later come back to haunt him, they are part of his road to holiness. Judas’ plans are hidden away in his heart and will soon destroy him. Peter learns humility and seeks forgiveness. Judas embraces despair and does not ask to be forgiven.

What do we do?

by Shane Dwyer

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