The Nazarene Way of
THE Gospel reading of John 13:21-33, 36-38 recounts the dramatic way in which Jesus unmasked both Judas and Peter with the truth, and that Jesus was in control and knew what would happen; as He chose to follow the Way that led to His death.
When Jesus indicates that Judas would betray Him, the drama woven by John shows how the fate of Jesus was at hand. Jesus orders Judas to be quick about what he intends to do. Then Judas goes out into the loneliness of the night, aware that Jesus knows of his infidelity.
In contrast to Judas, Peter claims to be loyal. He even pledges that he is ready to sacrifice his life rather than allow Jesus to be taken prisoner. However, Jesus confronts him with the truth: "You will lay down your life for Me, will you? I tell you truly, the cock will not crow before you have three times disowned Me.'' Jesus knows the impetuous Peter all too well.
There is a powerful message behind these Gospel readings. Jesus sees right through our appearances, how we falsely present ourselves to others as holy or pious beings. He recognizes the frailty of the human spirit as reflected in the acts that lie behind the betrayal of Judas and the denial of Peter.
Peter would come to recognize the truth of what Jesus told him. Once he did so, he found humility and new hope in Jesus. Judas, on the other hand, was lost. Perhaps John presents these two apostles as symbols of every human person who confronts personal truth when revealed by an encounter with the Way of the Nazarene.
Traditionally the Catholic Church has used these early days of Holy Week as days for final personal preparation for the celebration of the high holy days. There is great wisdom in these traditions.
Perhaps, we too, will find in these days, the courage to confront our true selves and realize how often we deny or betray Jesus in our daily lives.
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