17 April 2019: Everyone is a potential betrayer of the Gospel

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Wednesday of Holy Week

Reading 1: Isaiah 50:4-9; Gospel:Matthew 26:14-25

Someone who has dipped his hand into the dish with me, will betray me.

Jesus knew, towards the end, that Judas would betray him. One wonders why Jesus did not choose to confront him directly, at least in private, but chose rather to announce the betrayal in an oblique manner in public: “One of you will betray me.” When disciples were wondering who it could be, he said: “One who has dipped his hands into the dish with me.” Every one had dipped his hands into the bowl with Jesus for three years. It was the family habit of the nomadic middle eastern people to sit around and eat from the same big plate and bowl. Strangely each of the disciples also asks, “not I, Lord, surely?” There seems to have been anxiety, a lurking doubt, in each of them that Jesus could be referring to him! In John’s Gospel, Jesus in fact dipped a piece of bread in the sauce and handed it to Judas and told him to do quickly what he had to do. Even then the others do not understand clearly that it was the Iscariot!

Besides giving a message to Judas, probably Jesus wanted also every one of them to examine their own fidelity, particularly in the face of the impending danger. They all knew that the atmosphere was dangerous for Jesus and for the group. It was not merely the Jews who rejected Jesus. The apostles themselves were confused about the nature of the “Kingdom” that he announced. It did not seem to meet their expectations.

In this context, everyone was a potential betrayer. Every one of them was unsure of his own fidelity, even as they professed it. No one dared to protest vehemently against this serious public accusation of Jesus. May be the accusing finger was pointed towards every one of them, they wondered!

All of us are betrayers of the Lord of Love in some way or other. Who can claim complete fidelity to the Gospel? The fact we accept it and that we worship Jesus does not mean that we do not betray him, when his company becomes inconvenient or dangerous. “Is it I, Lord?” is a question worth taking seriously. After all, we are also among those who have dipped our hands into the dish with him!

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