3 & 4 April 2007: Holy Tuesday and Wednesday
John 13, 21-33, 36-38 and Matthew 26, 14-25
In the Eastern tradition, for the host to offer a guest a morsel from his dish is a sign of a special affection and friendship. In the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament, Boaz, who would like to show Ruth how he honored her, invited her to dip her morsel into the wine (Ruth 2, 14).
In the Gospel today, Jesus took a morsel from his bread and dipped it into the wine and gave it to Judas Iscariot, as a sign of his friendship and love. Jesus knew that Judas would betray him. It seems that Jesus is appealing to the dark heart of Judas, reminding him of his friendship, and giving Judas a choice: Will you choose the 30 pieces of silver over our friendship?
In the same manner, Jesus also took a morsel from his bread and dipped it into wine and gave it to Peter. Jesus predicted that Peter too will deny his friendship with Jesus three times before the cock crows thrice.
Today we will look at our betrayals and our experiences of being betrayed. In other words, we will look at our Judases and Peters in our lives; or how we become like them: when we exchange our friendship for popularity or to save face or protect our ‘image’; when we do not keep our word; when parents become the source of childhood trauma; when we promise faithfulness as Peter, but soon will break them; when we become hypocrites to those we do not like or even to our friends whom we harbor some grudge.
Keeping in mind that we too have become traitors to Jesus and to others, how do we treat our Judases and Peters? Often, we would condemn and despise our traitors. We would not forgive them. We would try to take revenge or wish them evil. Even in language, Judas is condemned: “Hudas ka!” Judas will always have a negative connotation.
But, Jesus offered his morsel and gave it to both Judas and Peter. Peter will soon be forgiven. If only Judas did not take his own life, he would have been forgiven too. If we cannot forgive our own traitors, then how can we be forgiven too? The Our Father tells us, “Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sinned against us.” We ask the Lord to forgive us in the manner of our forgiving others.
Again and again, Jesus would offer his morsel to us, giving us a choice: Will you choose my friendship over material possession, popularity, or reputation? Not choosing Jesus is breaking our friendship with him. Breaking our friendship with Jesus is called sin.
You see, when we sin, most of us do not actually hate God. When we sin, we actually forget God — we forget our friendship. Like Judas and Peter, we forget that Jesus broke his bread, dipped it into his wine and gave it to us. He gave his life for our salvation: that is real friendship.