Fr. John Denburger, OCSO
Tuesday of Holy Week
Isaiah 49: 1 – 6; Ps 71; John 13: 21 – 33, 36 – 38
“And it was night.” That brief sentence, as we know, is not about time; rather, it is St. John’s commentary on an ominous darkness, a pervading darkness that touches some peoples’ lives and in no small way.
It touches Jesus: “Reclining at table with His disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, ‘Amen, amen. I say to you, one of you will betray Me’.” A commentary on this passage states that this inner disorder, this being disquieted in St. John’s Gospel is always a sign that Jesus is confronting some evil. Surely, the evil that threatens His life is closing in, it is His hour.
“…one of you will betray Me” – Peter nods at the Beloved Disciple, the question comes “Who is it?” and Jesus replies, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel and have dipped it.” It appears that Judas was within Jesus’ reach; he took it and his hour had come, “Satan entered him…and he left at once.” “And it was night” – darkness had taken over his spirit.
Jesus handed Judas a morsel and Judas, in turn, handed over Jesus. There are any number of reasons given for this betrayal and one of them might be that Judas readily took from Jesus but never really took to Him. Perhaps, Judas enjoyed the limelight of being among the Twelve but never embraced the Light. After almost three years of companionship with Jesus, it had come to “how much will you give me for Him?”
“And it was night” for Peter. “Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny Me three times.” Peter’s hour was rapidly approaching and whereas Judas betrayed by design, Peter betrayed through weakness. Such “a night” can come upon anyone.
What might we learn from Peter? He might tell us, “Never take yourself so seriously that you forget that we can do nothing without God’s grace.” Peter mistook bold words for a courageous will.
What might Judas teach us? He might tell us, “I was always on the verge of commitment and moving towards belief in the Master, waiting for the right moment, an overwhelming inspiration and I waited too long. An inner night was growing within me and it conquered.”
“For all of you are children of the light and children of the day, We are not of the night nor of darkness…let us stay alert and sober.” (1 Thess 5: 5) St. Paul’s admonition is effective in our lives only to the degree that we seek this light, this day through prayer and without prayer, we easily become victims of “And it was night!”