Tag Archives: abandonment

Betrayal

Jn 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.”
The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.
One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved,
was reclining at Jesus’ side.
So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant.
He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him,
“Master, who is it?”
Jesus answered,
“It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.”
So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas,
son of Simon the Iscariot.
After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him.
So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”
Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him.
Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him,
“Buy what we need for the feast,”
or to give something to the poor.
So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.

When he had left, Jesus said,
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself,
and he will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
You will look for me, and as I told the Jews,
‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.”

Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?”
Jesus answered him,
“Where I am going, you cannot follow me now,
though you will follow later.”
Peter said to him,
“Master, why can I not follow you now?
I will lay down my life for you.”
Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me?
Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow
before you deny me three times.”

Tuesday, Holy Week

The gospels from Monday to Thursday in Holy Week take us away from the crowded temple area in Jerusalem where Jesus spoke to the crowds and his avowed enemies and bring us into homes where “his own” join him to eat a meal. In Bethany six days before Passover he eats with those he loved: Martha, Mary and Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead. In Jerusalem on the night before he dies he eats with the twelve who followed him.

During the meal in Bethany, Mary anoints his feet with precious oil in a beautiful outpouring of her love. But the gospels for Tuesday and Wednesday point out, not love, but betrayal. Friends that followed him abandon him. Judas betrays him for thirty pieces of silver and walks into the night; Peter will deny him three times; the others flee. Jesus must face suffering and death alone.

Are we unlike them?

Does a troubled Jesus face us too, “his own,” to whom he gave new life in the waters of baptism and Bread at his table. Will we not betray or deny?  Will we not go away?

Surely the gospels are not just about long ago; they’re also about now.

The Stone Rejected

Mt 21:33-43, 45-46

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“Hear another parable.
There was a landowner who planted a vineyard,
put a hedge around it,
dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.
Then he leased it to tenants and went on a journey.
When vintage time drew near,
he sent his servants to the tenants to obtain his produce.
But the tenants seized the servants and one they beat,
another they killed, and a third they stoned.
Again he sent other servants, more numerous than the first ones,
but they treated them in the same way.
Finally, he sent his son to them,
thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’
But when the tenants saw the son, they said to one another,
‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him and acquire his inheritance.’
They seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
What will the owner of the vineyard do to those tenants when he comes?”
They answered him,
He will put those wretched men to a wretched death
and lease his vineyard to other tenants
who will give him the produce at the proper times.”
Jesus said to them, Did you never read in the Scriptures:

The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
by the Lord has this been done,
and it is wonderful in our eyes?

Therefore, I say to you,
the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you
and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”
When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables,
they knew that he was speaking about them.

And although they were attempting to arrest him,they feared the crowds,

for they regarded him as a prophet.

(Friday, 2nd week of lent)

In Matthew’s gospel,  as Jesus enters Jerusalem before his death, a large crowd acclaims him as “the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee” and spread their cloaks and branches before him. “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Then, Jesus goes into the temple and drives out those who were buying and selling there, a symbolic act that restores it as a place of prayer. (Matthew 21, 1-18)

The Jewish leaders react strongly,  demanding to know by what authority he does these things. In response, Jesus accepts the testimony of the people; he has been sent by God. He is indeed the Son of David. But in the parable he directs to their leaders Jesus recognizes they will reject him, as others before them rejected prophets sent by God. They will put him to death.

All the gospels clearly state that Jesus saw himself as he does in this gospel passage. He knows he speaks in God’s name and the leaders of his people will reject him. Yet, the stone that the builders reject will become the cornerstone.

Still, the  conviction Jesus has about his mission will not insulate him from the pain he will suffer from being rejected and from having the the truth he speaks denied. Like the prophets before him he will suffer greatly from rejection. This will be especially acute as the crowds that acclaimed him when he entered the city fall silent and his own disciples deny and abandon him. He then is alone.

This parable from Matthew helps us to understand what Jesus suffered when he is arrested and brought to die on a cross. Those who follow him will know that suffering too.