DAILY READINGS AND REFLECTION
Tuesday (7 April 2020) in Holy Week
Isaiah 49:1-6 – I will make you the light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth
ISLANDS, listen to me, pay attention, remotest peoples. The Lord called me before I was born, from my mother’s womb he pronounced my name.
He made my mouth a sharp sword, and hid me in the shadow of his hand. He made me into a sharpened arrow, and concealed me in his quiver.
He said to me, ‘You are my servant (Israel) in whom I shall be glorified’; while I was thinking, ‘I have toiled in vain, I have exhausted myself for nothing’; and all the while my cause was with the Lord, my reward with my God.
I was honoured in the eyes of the Lord, my God was my strength. And now the Lord has spoken, he who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, to gather Israel to him:
‘It is not enough for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel; I will make you the light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.’
John 13:21-33,36-38 – ‘What you are going to do, do quickly’
WHILE at supper with his disciples, Jesus was troubled in spirit and declared, ‘I tell you most solemnly, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples looked at one another, wondering which he meant.
The disciple Jesus loved was reclining next to Jesus; Simon Peter signed to him and said, ‘Ask who it is he means’, so leaning back on Jesus’ breast he said, ‘Who is it, Lord?’ ‘It is the one’ replied Jesus ‘to whom I give the piece of bread that I shall dip in the dish.’
He dipped the piece of bread and gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. At that instant, after Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered him.
Jesus then said, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly.’ None of the others at table understood the reason he said this. Since Judas had charge of the common fund, some of them thought Jesus was telling him, ‘Buy what we need for the festival’, or telling him to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the piece of bread he went out. Night had fallen.
When he had gone Jesus said: ‘Now has the Son of Man been glorified, and in him God has been glorified. If God has been glorified in him, God will in turn glorify him in himself, and will glorify him very soon.
‘My little children, I shall not be with you much longer. You will look for me, and, as I told the Jews, where I am going, you cannot come.’
Simon Peter said, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus replied, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow me now; you will follow me later.’ Peter said to him, ‘Why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ ‘Lay down your life for me?’ answered Jesus. ‘I tell you most solemnly, before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.’
THE gospel today, Monday in Holy Week (Jn 13:21-33,36-38), takes us already into the beginning of Jesus’ Passion/Suffering: “While at supper with his disciples, Jesus was troubled in spirit and declared, ‘I tell you most solemnly, one of you will betray me.’”
Jesus said this “most solemnly” and after having washed the feet of the disciples, and instituted the Eucharist earlier (the latter as recorded to the Synoptics – Mt., Mk., Lk.). After the account of Judas’ treachery and his departure, Jesus went on to give many Farewell Discourses filling up four of the following chapters till the end of chapter 17.
These farewell discourses of a man about to die should be taken seriously, His parting words. Read them! (Chapters 14, 15, 16, 17 of St. John). It is obvious. Jesus was deeply troubled. He knew He was “leaving”. So sorrowful and sad. We must be with Him today.
Jesus was an extremely perceptive and intelligent person, reading clearly the personalities, characters, situations and predicting their behaviour and outcome. He slipped away, eluded His enemies many times.
He knew Judas’ treachery probably without the need to get any evidence. But alas, His Hour, the Hour willed by the Father has dome. He gave Himself up to death, willingly, knowing “God will in turn glorify him in himself, and will glorify him very soon”.
The dull-witted Simon Peter was either so gullible or unwilling to face the real danger: ‘Lord, where are you going?’ But the patient and gentle Lord replied: ‘Where I am going you cannot follow me now; you will follow me later.’
We know Peter, despite his loud pledge of loyalty to go with Jesus and die with Him, he would betray his master. But like all the other apostles he too would follow Jesus in martyrdom for the Kingdom, Simon Peter crucified upside-down as he requested because he felt unworthy to die upright like Jesus his Master whom he betrayed.
The power of the Lord to transforms people!!! This is the Lord in whom we place all our hope, to transform our treachery to martyrdom this Holy Week. Like Peter however, we must hear the cockcrow, accept our sin and betrayal.
But we must expect this conversion and transformation. Isaiah in the first reading prophesized that the coming Messiah chosen from his mother’s womb would be given a mouth to speak words that would pierce and be effective as a sharp sword and arrow, hidden but would be used.
He would know that his work would not be in vain for he would be committed for the cause of the Lord, not just to bring together Jacob and Israel, but be the light of all the nations.
Poor Lord Jesus, Your horrible Passion has begun. Your disciples did not even recognize Your very troubled spirit, insensitive to Your fear and Your courage in the face of certain death.
Give me a bit of Your own compassion, Your courage, Your willingness to do Your Father’s will, so that I may stay with You in Your suffering. Give me the same grace to always suffer with those who suffer. May I accompany you in silence and in tears, to the end, this Holy Week, and all my life. Amen.