Text: Jn. 13:21-33, 36-38.
Theme: Relationship Betrayed And Denied.
Fr. Chidube Ubili, OP.
- As a Jew born and bred in Jewish culture and traditions, Jesus was familiar with the Passover Festival and had participated severally in it. But, to fulfill His Divine Mission, for which He is “The Christ, The Messiah, The Savour”, He desired to replace the Old Passover Meal, for which an “unblemished lamb” was sacrificed with a New(Passover) Meal, for which He would be sacrificed.
—So, St. John The Evangelist, reports that on the day before the Jewish Passover, Jesus and His twelve(12)apostles gathered to celebrate the festival in anticipation(cf. Jn.13:1ff). However, this meal turned out to be the last they had together as the “Jesus Preaching Ministry”. Hence, it is called the Last Supper of the Lord; or simply The Lord’s Supper.
- On Holy Thursday, the focus of the celebration of the Lord’s Supper shall be on what Jesus did. Today, the Tuesday-In- Holy Week, the focus is on the quality of relationship around Jesus – the intentions, attitudes, motives, dispositions, desires; indeed all that define and characterize human relationship.
- As the apostles were still relishing the fun of the Passover Feast, Jesus was already troubled and pensive; knowing the ordeal that would soon befall Him. So, He made a simple but shocking announcement: “I am telling you the truth: one of you is going to betray me”(Jn. 13:21). This revelation from Jesus sounded strange, as it was least expected and embarrassing and scandalizing. It opened floodgates of denials. Everyone asked a self-defensive and guilt-absolving question: “Lord, Is it I?”(Matt.26:20-22). But, the impetuous Peter, usually quick to speak before thinking, beckoned on the beloved apostle, John to ask Jesus whom He meant. John obliged Peter and without hesitation Jesus exposed Judas Iscariot before his fellow apostles(cf. Jn.13: 22-26). There must have been a pin-drop silence in the Supper Dinning Room when Jesus “unveiled” Judas, the “concealed enemy and destroyer” among them.
- Judas was not an ordinary(floor) member of the Jesus Preaching Ministry for the three(3) years he was with them. He also held the exalted position of the “Ministry Treasurer”; more like being the Minister of Finance/Governor of Central Bank. Yet, he knew that he never believed in the mission of Jesus. He was never committed to its success and therefore, never loyal and faithful. So, why was he there for three(3) years? A bias for faith and spirituality would easily respond that he was used to fulfill God’s plan. Yes, because “for those that love God, everything works for their good”(Rom.8:28). But, it does not explain away that Judas Iscariot betrayed and denied Jesus. This is relationship abused, wounded and ultimately destroyed.
- So, it took the Passion of Christ to reveal and expose Judas betraying Jesus and destroying the honoured relationship meant to exist between them. The Lock-Down(LD) and Stay-At-Home(SAH) meant to stem the spread of COVID-19 has kept us in Passion, as we endure painful discomforts and inconveniences. As the concealed disloyalty and unfaithfulness of Judas in his relationship with Jesus was revealed during the Passion of Christ, so is our own disloyalty and unfaithfulness in various human relationships revealed and exposed in our COVID-19 induced Passion.
—Before the LD and SAH of COVID-19, we took the liberty to abuse, betray, deny and in some cases destroy the treasure we ought to cherish, protect and guard in our relationships of various forms: friendship, marriage/family life, business, etc.
- Is there anyone who has never abused, denied, betrayed or destroyed a relationship: the Priest/Religious who has an ever-ready reason or excuse for being away or absent from being with others in the Community?; the ‘absentee’ father/husband ever feigning “busy at work” and neglecting the family?; the career mother/wife who has become an ‘assistant’ to the house maid?; the licentious single man or woman for whom weekend clubbing or party is unavoidable, without regard for other essential matters of life?; the wayward student who thrives in truancy and ‘waka-about’ that stresses the parents and teachers?
- Thanks be to the LD and SAH of COVID-19. All the while, we were living “false life”; hurting and breaking relationships by betrayals and denials. All the excuses and reasons we “invent” for failing to treasure, nurture and protect our relationships are now “shut-out”. We are all confined at home – no work, no business, no school; indeed “no leave, no transfer”. And whatever happened to European Premier League (EPL)? Its now suspended and life goes on. So, Nigerians can do without EPL and survive? Its unbelievable, yet real and true. And the Tokyo(Japan) World Cup scheduled for June 2020 nko? Its now postponed to 2021, Abi?
—Now, in religious houses, the Chapels are fully alive with prayers and chants rising in various hours of the day. Every family home is warm, as members are present to one another. So, everyone sees, connects and bonds; either by default or by design. An “absentee” father/husband is not feasible in this period of COVID-19 LD and SAH. Which responsible mother/wife will abandon her kitchen to the maid now? Of course, children are compelled to remain in-house.
—Therefore, besides enduring the pain and stress of LD and SAH to stem the tide of COVID-19, we are also learning the discipline of appreciating and nourishing our relationships; to cherish, protect and guard it.
If we endeavour to remain loyal and faithful to our loved ones beyond this COVID-19 period, then we shall be more human, happier and healthier with a better connected and bonded humanity. That is part of the New Life we desire to have when we rise with Christ at Easter.
– Apr. 7, 2020 @ 21:49 GMT |