March 30, 2021. Tuesday in Holy Week

March 30, 2021

Tuesday in Holy Week

1st Reading: Isaiah 49:1-6

The life of God’s servant seems a failure, but it bears great fruit

Listen to me, O coastlands, pay attention, you peoples from far away! The Lord called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”
But I said, “I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my cause is with the Lord, and my reward with my God.” And now the Lord says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honoured in the sight of the Lord, and my God has become my strength, he says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

Responsorial: from Psalm 71

R./: I will sing of your salvation

In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your justice rescue me, and deliver me;
incline your ear to me, and save me. (R./)
Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked. (R./)
For you are my hope, O Lord;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength. (R./)
My mouth shall declare your justice,
day by day your salvation.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your marvellous deeds. (R./)

Gospel: John 13:21-33, 36-38

Jesus warns of betrayals; but those who stay faithful will follow him hereafter

After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival;” or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.”
Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, 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? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.

From darkness to life: The paradox of the Passion

To his followers, the brutal execution of Jesus must have seemed a total disaster. For people who stood watching his crucifixion from a distance (Mk 15:40) and others who had fled for their lives but who heard the story later, it seemed an unmitigated tragedy. The inspiring good news of Jesus that had filled them with enthusiasm now seemed a sad delusion. With his death, all their hopes lay in ruins. They had not taken seriously his various predictions that he would have to suffer but would then rise again. (Mk 8:32).
Only later, after their glimmering, puzzling visions after the resurrection did they take those predictions to heart and understand them for the first time. They were helped by studious members of their group who came to realise that all Jesus’ sufferings were foretold in prophecy; and most clearly in the Isaiah poems about God’s loving Servant. It suddenly dawned on them that prophecies which had first applied to the whole people of Israel were now fulfilled in Jesus. It was to him that God’s promised, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” The apparently futile aim of Jesus to renew and purify his Jewish people did not end with his death. In fact his death on the cross achieved more than any other action in his life. Its effect was a new gift of spiritual life for people everywhere (“I will draw them all to myself.”) His friends now saw in Jesus the fulfilment of Isaiah 49:6, “I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
In his account of the Last Supper St. John interweaves two strands: imminent loss and future triumph. Even among the Twelve who sat at table with Jesus, there was one who would betray him, another who would deny him. He had to contend with their general incomprehension of what awaited him next day. But the Evangelist knew that Jesus faced this supreme trial with a firm hope and willing acceptance. This is also our hope, as we gather around his memory with reverence, this Holy Week.
St John tells how Judas headed off into the dark, while the disciple Jesus loved reclined next to him, literally, “close to his chest.” In his opening chapter John said that Jesus was “close to the Father’s chest” (or in the Father’s bosom). The phrase suggests that Our Lord’s affection for this beloved disciple was like Jesus’ own relationship with the Father.
The “beloved disciple” is an inspirational image of the kind of person we are all called to become. This disciple is not named in John’s gospel, because we are all invited to link our name to his, to identify with him and learn from him. For St John the evangelist, we are all called to be beloved disciples of Jesus. We can be as close to Jesus as he is to the Father. “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; remain in my love…” He wants us as joined with him as he is with his Father. That is our priveleged calling, this Holy Week.


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