One by one the distressed disciples in today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 26.14-25) asked Jesus Not I, Lord, surely? when he told them that one of them was to betray him. They couldn’t believe that they would act in that way.
One disciple did betray him, others when he was arrested fled from him, afraid. Peter, the leading disciple, denied him.
Several years ago I worked in a maximum security prison. As I got to know the prisoners it became clear that many, although they had made terrible choices, were the victims also of upbringing, poor education, and limited options. Many were victims of alcohol or drugs abuse. What was clear was that they were not different in kind from other human beings, they were frail, broken people capable of terrible things and also capable of good things.
The Gospel reading today is a sharp reminder of our human nature. People like Peter, James, Andrew and other disciples were saints, and they were people with human frailties. Like the prisoners I met, like us all, they were capable of great good, and also of great mistakes in life.
Knowing the disciples intimately Jesus loves them and shares his last supper with them. As ever he welcomes sinners to his table. Knowing that one would betray and others fail he still cares, loves and cherishes his friends.
No doubt many of us would have acted in the same way as the disciples did. However, no doubt, the Lord, who knows us better than we know ourselves, invites us too in love to his table and calls us friends. No doubt he forgives us. Like the frail, human disciples, we too are called to be people who share God’s light for the world today.