I have always found these first few days of Holy Week to be a little frustrating. We have celebrated the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, and we await the unfolding of events which we celebrate in the Great Three Days.
As we pause I find myself wanting to get on with it. I need to find patience, as I think we all do. In these days leading to the Climax there are the little dramas which speak so much to us, but which can pass us by.
Today’s gospel reading ( John 13. 21-33, 36-38) for me has three such dramas. Jesus enjoying a leisurely meal tells his friends that one of them will betray him. Then Satan, we are told, enters Judas’ heart and he is told to do whatever he is to do, to do quickly. Last of all Jesus says “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.”
Like the disciples in this story we are able to relax and be at one with Jesus. There’s a danger here for me. I start to take Jesus for granted, the intimacy is there, but also there is my weakness of forgetting that I am dependant on Jesus and not he on me.
The second dramatic event is Jesus telling Judas to do what he has to do quickly. Its rather likea painful medical procedure – Jesus knows that he is to be wounded, and wants the pain to be quick and not drawn out. His betrayal is going to hurt and he wants it to be quick.
Then we are told that the Son of Man – Jesus – has been glorified. Here he is glorified and it is a glory which began with his birth.
In my patient reflection of this Gospel I find that I can imagine being alongside the disciples enjoying a meal with friends, but, unfortunately, taking my friends, and my closest friend for granted. I find myself betraying Jesus in a long drawn out way that brings him pain – I fail to serve him in my sisters and brothers in need.
But, it’s the glory of Jesus which I find most difficult. We are told that “now is the Son of Man glorified”. The glory is to become a theme over the next few days as we celebrate the Triduum, but the glory is in the person of Jesus, the God-Man, the Word made flesh. Jesus as God surrenders himself to total dependency on us – ultimately to his death on the cross.
Jesus takes our failings, our little foibles, and our big sins, and all are turned into the Glory of Christ as he reigns from the Cross and triumphs over sin.
Our contempt for Jesus, our betrayal, is turned around on the Cross.
Jesus is glorified in all of this –the Gospel is one of surprise.