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Homily for March 30, 2021 – Tuesday of Holy Week

Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO

March 30, 2021 – Tuesday of Holy Week

Isaiah 49:1-6, John 13: 21-33, 36-38

Jesus instructed his disciples concerning the deepest meaning of his mission when he spoke openly and plainly about his passion, death, and resurrection. He told them that all his actions were in total submission to the will of his Father. He clearly stated that his passion and death were something he would endure of his own free will and not something forced on him as a hapless victim. “No one takes my life from me. I give my life of my own free will. I have the authority to give my life, and I have the authority to take my life back again” (Jn. 10:18). The Son’s humility manifested the grandeur of the Father. The weakness of the Son made tangible the power of the Father in the face of a culture seeking to control and dominate others. To people who consider a blood-bathed body impaled on a cross offensive or ridiculous, Christ demonstrated the authority for his work: “My thoughts are not your thoughts” (Is. 55:8). Saint Paul further elaborated on the comment: “For what seems to be God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and what seems to be God’s weakness is stronger than human strength” (1 Cor. 1:25). By embracing death, Christ “has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). Lifted up on the Cross, the Light of the World enlightened our darkness.

He who emptied himself of all the grandeur that was his as God took to himself our lowliness. He who is nearest the Father’s heart clothed himself in mortal flesh. He became poor to enrich us. He lived among us to be our strong refuge who would not forsake us when our strength fails us. In today’s Gospel passage Jesus made an emotional prediction. A member of his intimate circle of disciples would betray him.

At this point, allow me to pause and remind you of these words of Jesus because they are integral to today’s pericope: “I am the light of the world. Whoever clings to me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (Jn. 8:12). While most people blithely speak of the treachery of Judas, I would like to take a serious look at the tragedy of Judas. Sharing food with someone had great significance in the ancient world. When Jesus handed the morsel to Judas, he is confirming the bond of friendship that existed between them. Jesus, the Light of the world, was offering Judas an opportunity to enter into communion with the Light. At this point, John adds a significant detail. “After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him” (Jn. 13:27). The prince of darkness blinded him to the light and caused him to separate himself from the community of disciples. The evangelist closes with this stark statement. “Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night” (Jn.13:30). Having walked away from the Light, Judas found himself immersed in isolation, confusion, and ultimately in despair.

Jesus Christ left his dwelling in unapproachable light to inhabit our vulnerability and illumine our darkness. The Eternal Word entered our silence to create bonds of love that would draw us into communion with one another. In a few moments, he will offer us a morsel of the Bread of Life that was baked in the Fire of Divine Love. When we take that morsel may we remain in the Light and cling to Christ. May our communion with Christ help us to revive the faith that comes from the living Christ, the hope inspired by the breath of the Holy Spirit, and the love flowing from the heart of the Father.