Wednesday of Holy Week

Opening prayer

Lord God, whose blessed Son our Saviour gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Gospel reading                                                                                    John 13: 21-30

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.

Reflection by Dr John Wilcox

What was that Jesus said?  “One of you will betray me.”  I remember being shocked, confused.  Who could it be?  How could it be?  Why would anyone … ?  I remember looking around the room at the others.  I think we were all stunned, taken aback. Perhaps he meant Judas.  Judas had rushed out before we had finished our meal together.  At the time, we thought he had an errand to do for the Lord.  But perhaps he meant Judas.  Something to do with the money he held on our behalf. Or perhaps he meant Simon Peter.  Peter had always been there for the Lord but apparently he denied knowing him just when it seemed like the whole world was against us.  It is said he denied him three times. But as I reflect upon it now, he could have been referring to any one of us because we have all made mistakes and let him down.  Even me.  Especially me.

I am not proud of how I have sometimes behaved.  Too often, my hope turns to despair.  And I still find it difficult to love as he loved, putting my own self-interest before others, thinking of foreigners as being different, and those with disabilities as being less than human. And at times I struggle still to believe in him, despite the miracles. So perhaps he meant me. 

Forgive me, Lord.  Forgive me.

Closing prayer

When we are tempted to deny your Son because we fear the anger of the world, and we are few who bear the insults hurled: your will, O God, be done.

When we are tempted to betray your Son because he leads us in a harder way, and makes demands that we do not want to pay: your will, O God, be done.

When we forget the cross that held your Son and would avoid the burden of this life, the cry for justice and an end to strife: your will, O God, be done.

When doubt obscures the victory of your Son and faith is weak and all resolve has fled, help us to know him risen from the dead: your will, O God, be done.  Amen.