Without Reservation, Love
Gospel Reflection for Tuesday of Holy Week: John 13:21-33, 36-38
Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified,
"Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me."
So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night. (John 13:21, 30)
There are some who call tomorrow “Spy Wednesday” because the Gospel reading retells Judas Iscariot betraying Jesus. Perhaps ‘spy’ is a bit of a jump, but he was a betrayer.
In a long line of experiences that Jesus had in his ministry, we see his ultimate choice for love at work: he chose Judas. He loved him. Through to the end, he held out hope for him that he might be transformed. Jesus was fully human and so in accepting this, it is unlikely that he could anticipate the exact way or even the person who might betray him in his life from the get-go. And yet, ever-perceptive of the human condition, at some point late in their journey it became known to him that Judas now had ulterior motives.
Knowing this, Jesus never rejected Judas. He warned him. He preached of love and mercy. Perhaps he prayed that it would not be this way, but he knew he had given everything of himself to his disciples. He had not hidden anything from them; they still had the freedom to accept or reject him. Ultimately, Jesus hoped and trusted that the Father’s will was guiding his life and that if his betrayal was to be so, he would accept it without compromising his mission: a transforming love that would save all creation.
Years ago I had a major dispute with my employer; a betrayal of trust where I was told that the institute is never loyal to its employees. I’d like to say that I was a shining Christian example of this love that Christ witnesses today, but I wasn’t. I did try, but walking in Jesus’ path is extremely difficult. Though I stayed away from pitfalls of revenge, gossip, slander, and other such things one is tempted to do in these instances, I failed at sharing in Christ’s love for them in their worst moment. Especially when it was against me.
We all experience betrayals. How can we, like Jesus, know the injustice of it and yet still choose radical love? What do we need from Jesus to say ‘yes’ to sharing his indulgent love with those who seem undeserving to receive it from us?
I have to say that I feel the weight of the conviction when I realise that I receive Jesus’ love undeservedly. Without reservation, I am asked to do the same.