“So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don't sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we've satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late.” - Lee Iacocca: (an American automobile executive)
Gospel Text: (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?”
“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.”
The Gospel today reminds us that as the disciples were with Jesus in these last days, there was a lot of secrecy and confusion; it is clear that the disciples did not understand what was happening. I imagine the question, “What lies ahead?” had to be at the forefront in many of the disciples’ minds. And of course, we all have that question. It can be hard to enter the mindset of the disciples in this story because we know how things play out. It becomes easier, though, when we connect the story to our own lives and the fact that we don’t know what the future holds, either. What is key here, I think, is how we approach that unknown future.
Part of the confusion for the disciples had to come from the fact that they thought they had an idea of how things were supposed to go, and it almost certainly didn’t include one of these close companions betraying the one they were following. When Jesus said that one of them would betray him, they couldn’t accept or understand it because it didn’t fit with what they wanted or expected.
This is our lesson today. We often don’t know where things are going or what lies ahead, and our lives will inevitably contain disappointments, losses, and betrayals. But if we are able to move away from having such strong attachments to how things “should be,” we’ll be able to realize that remaining faithful disciples and following the example of Jesus (humility, patience, compassion, courage) is how we can face whatever lies ahead in life’s uncertainties and unexpected turns.