This evening I will attend the Chrism Mass of the Diocese of Kerry in Killarney Cathedral and renew my priestly vows.
Today’s gospel is John 13:21-33, 36-38. While at supper with his disciples, Jesus was troubled in spirit and declared, ‘I tell you most solemnly, one of you will betray me’. The disciples looked at one another, wondering which he meant. The disciple Jesus loved was reclining next to Jesus; Simon Peter signed to him and said, ‘Ask who it is he means’, so leaning back on Jesus’ breast he said, ‘Who is it, Lord?’ ‘lt is the one’ replied Jesus ‘to whom I give the piece of bread that I shall dip in the dish.’ He dipped the piece of bread and gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. At that instant, after Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered him. Jesus then said, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly’. None of the others at table understood the reason he said this. Since Judas had charge of the common fund, some of them thought Jesus was telling him, ‘Buy what we need for the festival’, or telling him to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the piece of bread he went out. Night had fallen. When he had gone Jesus said:
‘Now has the Son of Man been glorified,
and in him God has been glorified.
If God has been glorified in him,
God will in turn glorify him in himself,
and will glorify him very soon.
‘My little children,
I shall not be with you much longer.
You will look for me,
and, as I told the Jews,
where I am going,
you cannot come.
Simon Peter said, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus replied, ‘Where I am going you cannot follow me now; you will follow me later’. Peter said to him, ‘Why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ ‘Lay down your life for me?’ answered Jesus. ‘I tell you most solemnly, before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.
I have two personal reflections about this passage: Firstly about the importance of receiving Holy Communion with the right disposition or being in the state of grace or not being in the state of mortal sin. The meaning of companion is derived from ‘common-panis’, the word ‘panis’ being the latin for bread. In all cultures sharing bread or food in general is a sign of friendship. In the above gospel, Judas had betrayal rather than friendship in his heart for Jesus. Thus when he shares bread with Jesus the intended meaning is turned upside down. Because of the abusive/wrong use of this sign, it is at this time that Satan enters Judas and night falls (symbolising the loss of spiritual light/grace within him).
All the more when we receive not just ordinary bread but the Bread of Eternal Life, the Body of Christ, do we need to be in the state of friendship with Jesus (not in a state of mortal sin). If necessary we may need to be reconciled with him through confession.
Secondly, the only apostle to be present with Jesus at the foot of the Cross is John the Beloved Disciple. All the rest – particularly Peter with all his bravado – have deserted him. What was special about John? Probably it is his special friendship and intimacy with Jesus as demonstrated by his leaning on the Master’s breast. Let us ask Jesus for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit that we too can have this friendship with him.