Prayer and Meditation for Tuesday, April 11, 2017 — The Lord Calls Us From Birth — My Reward is With Him — “One of you will betray me.”

Tuesday of Holy Week
Lectionary: 258

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Reading 1  IS 49:1-6

Hear me, O islands,
listen, O distant peoples.
The LORD called me from birth,
from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.
He made of me a sharp-edged sword
and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.
He made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me.
You are my servant, he said to me,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.

Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
Yet my reward is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God.
For now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
That Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
And I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Responsorial Psalm PS 71:1-2, 3-4A, 5AB-6AB, 15 AND 17

R. (see 15ab) 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. I will sing of your salvation.
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. I will sing of your salvation.
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. I will sing of your salvation.
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 wondrous deeds.
R. I will sing of your salvation.

Verse Before The Gospel

Hail to you, our King, obedient to the Father;
you were led to your crucifixion like a gentle lamb to the slaughter.

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Last Supper, Hans Holbein the Younger, 1524

Gospel  JN 13:21-33, 36-38

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.
One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved,
was reclining at Jesus’ side.
So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant.
He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him,
“Master, who is it?”
Jesus answered,
“It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.”
So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas,
son of Simon the Iscariot.
After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him.
So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”
Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him.
Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him,
“Buy what we need for the feast,”
or to give something to the poor.
So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.

When he had left, Jesus said,
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself,
and he will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
You will look for me, and as I told the Jews,
‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.”

Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?”
Jesus answered him,
“Where I am going, you cannot follow me now,
though you will follow later.”
Peter said to him,
“Master, 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?
Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow
before you deny me three times.”

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Judas with his money bag

Lectio Divina For Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Reflection

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• This is the third day of Holy Week. The texts of the Gospel of these days place before us the terrible facts which will lead to the imprisonment and condemnation of Jesus. The texts not only present the decisions of the religious and civil authority against Jesus, but also the betrayal and the negotiations of the disciples which rendered possible for the authority to arrest Jesus and contributed enormously to increase the suffering of Jesus.
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• John 13, 21: The announcement of the betrayal. After having washed the feet of the disciples (Jn 13, 2-11) and having spoken about the obligation that we have of washing each other’s feet (Jn 13, 12-16), Jesus is profoundly touched. And it is no wonder. He was fulfilling that gesture of service and total gift of self, while at his side one of the disciples was planning how to betray him that same night. Jesus expresses his emotion saying: “In all truth I tell you one of you is going to betray me!” He does not say: “Judas will betray me”, but “one of you”. It is one of his group who will betray him.
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• John 13, 22-25: The reaction of the disciples. The disciples are frightened. They did not expect that declaration, that is, that one of them would be the traitor. Peter makes a sign to John to ask Jesus which of the twelve would be the traitor. This is a sign that they did not know one another well, they could not succeed in understanding who could be the traitor. A sign, that is, that the friendship among them had not as yet reached the same transparency that Jesus had with them (cf. Jn 15, 15). John reclined near Jesus and asked him: “Who is it?”
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• John 13, 26-30: Jesus indicates Judas. Jesus says: It is the one to whom I give the piece of bread that I dip in the dish. He took a piece of bread, dips it in the cup and hands it over to Judas. This was a common and normal gesture which the participants at a supper used to do among themselves. And Jesus tells Judas: “What you are going to do, do quickly!” Judas had charge of the common fund. He was in charge of buying things and of giving the alms to the poor. This is why no one perceived anything special in the gesture and in the words of Jesus. In this description of the announcement of the betrayal is evoked the Psalm in which the psalmist complains about the friend who betrays him: “Even my trusted friend on whom I relied, who shared my table takes advantage of me” (Ps 41, 10; cf. Ps 55, 13-15). Judas becomes aware that Jesus knew everything (cf. Jn 13, 18). But even knowing it, he does not change his mind but keeps the decision to betray Jesus. This is the moment in which the separation between Judas and Jesus takes place. John says at this moment Satan entered him. Judas rises and leaves. He places himself at the side of the enemy (Satan). John comments: “”It was night”. It was dark.
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• John 13, 31-33: The glorification of Jesus begins. It is as if history had waited for this moment of separation between light and darkness. Satan (the enemy) and darkness entered into Judas when he decides to carry out what he was planning. In that moment the light was made in Jesus who declares: “Now the son of man has been glorified, and in him God has been glorified also. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will in turn glorify him in himself, and will glorify him very soon!” Everything which will happen from now on will be in the regressive way. The decisions had already been taken by Jesus (Jn 12, 27-28) and now by Judas. The facts follow one another hastily. And, Jesus announces it: “Little children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and, as I told the Jews, where I am going you cannot come”. There is little time left before the Passover.
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• John 13, 34-35: The new commandment. Today’s Gospel omits these two verses on the new commandment of love, and begins to speak about the announcement of the denial of Peter.
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• John 13, 36-38: Announcement of the denial of Peter. Together with the betrayal of Judas, the Gospel also speaks of the denial of Peter. These are the two facts which contribute the most to Jesus suffering and pain. Peter says that he is ready to give his life for Jesus. Jesus recalls and reminds him of reality: “You are ready to lay down your life for me? In all truth I tell you, before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times”. Mark had written: “Before the cock crows twice, you will have disowned me three times” (Mk 14, 30). Everybody knows that the cock crows rapidly. When in the morning the first cock begins to sing, almost at the same time all the cocks crow together. Peter is more rapid in his denial than the cock in crowing.

Personal questions

• Judas, the friend, becomes the traitor. Peter, the friend, denies Jesus. And I?
• I place myself in Jesus’ situation and I think: how does he face the denial and the betrayal, the contempt and the exclusion?

Concluding Prayer

You are my hope, Lord,
my trust, Yahweh, since boyhood.
On you I have relied since my birth,
since my mother’s womb you have been my portion,
the constant theme of my praise. (Ps 71,5-6)

http://ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/lectio-divina-john-1321-3336-38

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Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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COMMITTING OUR CAUSE TO THE LORD
SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ ISAIAH 49:1–6; JOHN 13:21-38]

Like the Suffering Servant, all of us are called by the Lord to serve Him by being His witnesses of light and love in the world.  This was what He told the Suffering Servant.  “It is not enough for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel; I will make you the light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” Our call to serve the Lord goes beyond serving our own kind, that is, our loved ones, but our fellowmen as well.   Many of us are willing to serve God but in truth we are serving ourselves.  We only care for those whom we love, especially our family members.  But we are blind to the needs of the community, especially those who are suffering and in need.  The love that we have is confined only to our dear ones.  This is not the kind of service that Christ envisaged.  It is a service to all.   Our love must be inclusive.  This is the love and service of the Suffering Servant of Isaiah and our Lord.

Secondly, this call was given to us even before we were born.  “The Lord called me before I was born; from my mother’s womb he pronounced my name.” Every call and vocation is unique.  There is no basis for comparison.  Vanity it is for us to ask why I am not a doctor or a teacher or a priest, etc.  It is the Lord who calls us and He has a special role for us to fulfill in His divine plan.   To each, He provides us the necessary charism to do our work.  The Suffering Servant said, “He made my mouth a sharp sword, and hid me in the shadow of his hand. He made me into a sharpened arrow, and concealed me in his quiver.” In this way, he could be a true prophet of His word and strike the hearts of the people by his preaching and prophecy.  Indeed, the Lord has formed him “in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, to gather Israel to him.” So our vocation is not by chance nor is our life meant to be lived in vain, without a purpose or without a role for the service of His people.  We are not created to live for ourselves but to live for others.  Otherwise, life has no meaning or purpose.  We are created by love and for love.

In a special way, Jesus took upon Himself as the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Suffering Servant.  He taught many times in the gospel that He had come as a servant to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.  (cf Mk 10:45)  St Paul in his letter to the Philippians described Him as a servant as well. “Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:6-8)

Thirdly, our vocation must be seen in the overall context of a bigger plan of God.  This is true of the Suffering Servant and also true of Jesus and all of us.   Within this context, we can appreciate why the bible often sees the enfolding of the history of Israel as all within the plan of God, including the death of Jesus.  He enlightened the disciples at Emmaus,  “’Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!  Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.” (Lk 24:25-27)  So in the plan of God, nothing happens by chance.  God works everything to our good if we cooperate with Him.   St Paul wrote, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family.  And those whom he predestined, he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.” (Rom 8:28-30)

Fourthly, we must realize that our task is simply to fulfill the plan of God and to do His will.  To be a servant does not mean to be ambitious like the apostles who were seeking for power and places of honour.   It does not matter whether we are successful in worldly terms or failures in the eyes of the world.  We should not be too concerned what kind of name we are crafting for ourselves in history.  What is more important is that we are faithful.  Indeed, when the Suffering Servant was lamenting his failure, thinking that he had “toiled in vain” and exhausted himself “for nothing”, the Lord assured him, “You are my servant (Israel) in whom I shall be glorified.”  The truth, as the Suffering Servant discovered, was that God was with him.  He might seem to have lost the battle but God was winning the battle for him.  He said, “all the while my cause was with the Lord, my reward with my God. I was honoured in the eyes of the Lord, my God was my strength.”
For this reason, in all that we do, we must entrust our cause to the Lord, since that calling came from Him.  We should not allow disappointments and failures to upset us too easily.   If we are called to do the Lord’s will and if we seek His will, not ours, then there is no failure, even when the world considers it a failure.  It is only a failure when we do not cooperate with His grace, regardless how successful we are in the world.   Consequently, in whatever we do, we must trust in the Lord who is our refuge and strength.  He is the Lord of Hosts.  As the psalmist says, “In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice rescue me, free me: pay heed to me and save me. Be a rock where I can take refuge, a mighty stronghold to save me; for you are my rock, my stronghold.”

Like Jesus, although troubled in spirit, He did not flinch from doing the will of His Father.  Humanly, He felt the pain of betrayal by Judas, one of the Twelve.  There is no greater pain than that of being betrayed by people closest to us and those whom we trust most.  Even St Peter who professed his love and loyalty failed Him like the rest. He did not stop Judas from going against the plan of God. Jesus accepted the weaknesses of His apostles.  Like St Peter, we all make great professions of love and loyalty, but when it comes to living out our promises, we fail.  This is true in marriage and even in priestly and religious commitments.  We take beautiful vows only to break them.  Jesus was not idealistic.  He knew the weak nature of us all.  And so with St Peter, Jesus remarked, “Lay down your life for me? I tell you most solemnly, before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.”

But He knew that somehow God would have the upper hand, not Judas or wicked men.  On the contrary, He saw this in the light of faith, for He said, “Now has the Son of Man been glorified, and in him God has been glorified. If God has been glorified in him, God will in turn glorify him in himself, and will glorify him very soon.”  Through the betrayal of Judas and His death, He would glorify the Father by showing us His love and mercy; and in turn the Father will glorify Him by raising Him from the dead.  He knew that after the threefold denial of Peter, there will be a threefold affirmation of His love.  So in confidence, let us follow the path of the psalmist and pray confidently when we feel like giving up or when we feel so helpless. “Free me from the hand of the wicked. It is you, O Lord, who are my hope, my trust, O Lord, since my youth. On you I have leaned from my birth, from my mother’s womb you have been my help.”

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Written by The Most Rev William Goh
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