Gospel Reflection — John 13:21-33, 36-38
“Will you lay down your life for me?” These words of Jesus are particularly sobering. When have we, like Peter, told our Lord that we would be willing to do anything for Him, only to renege on our promises later. Maybe there was a Lenten promise that was given up in a moment of weakness. Whatever it may be, we can have all the zealousness of Peter, but it is hard to truly lay down our lives for God. We all fall at one time or another. In this passage, Jesus predicts that not only one, but two of His Apostles will fall. Nor is this just a minor fall like giving in and eating that chocolate you gave up for Lent, but both Judas and Peter betray Jesus. To make things worse, it’s at the last supper that Jesus makes this prediction, and it’s the last supper that sets these wheels of betrayal in motion. Judas will turn Jesus in to the authorities to be sentenced to death, and Peter will turn his back on Jesus and deny that he even knows who Jesus is. This doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence, does it?
But although this situation can look rather bleak, and it may seem rather depressing, I see in here a message of just how extraordinary God’s love is. Just think, if you knew ahead of time that someone was going to betray you, would you invite them in for an intimate gathering—as your friends, no less? And this is not even just an intimate gathering, but it is the last supper! Jesus is giving His life to His Apostles in this first Eucharistic meal. And sure, we know that Peter is going to repent, but even Judas is invited to receive the Eucharist! Jesus offered His Body and Blood for Judas too, even knowing what was to come! Even knowing that Judas would not turn back to Him and repent, Jesus still gives His life for him. We would think that someone who is so evil and who will not repent, should be cast off and destroyed, but even for such a person, God still loves him. That is because God does not compartmentalize His love. Even for those who reject Him, God’s love remains.
I think that brings us a lot of hope, if we ever think that we are so marred by our sins, that we might wonder if God could ever love us. Even if we do not repent like Judas, God still loves us with all of His heart. Therefore we can have the confidence to know that, no matter what, God will always receive us back into His loving arms, because even if we are not willing to lay down our lives for Jesus, He has already laid down His life for us.