Holy Wednesday

St John 13: 21 – 32

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.

A drama of betrayal. Judas, having received bread from the hand of Jesus, left the Upper Room. ‘And it was night’. ‘Night’ may be a reference to the time of day but, equally, it suggests darkness and the hidden nature of betrayal and wrongdoing. Evil is often done in the darkness, out of sight. This is the darkness mentioned in the opening chapter of the Gospel, the darkness that could not comprehend or overcome light. The character of Judas is complex and there is far more to him than first meets the eye. The very name Judas, which in Hebrew is Judah, reminds us of the story in the Tanakh, the Old Testament, in which Judah encouraged his brothers to sell Joseph to the Midianites for twenty pieces of silver. What is important for us to see is that Jesus was and is present in the midst of the troubles and suffering of the world. In the darkness, in the midst of our anxieties and fears and loss, the calm, soothing Presence of Jesus is there. Sit with Him; receive from His hand the food of love.

Holy God,
Mystery Divine,
bless us in this time of testing.
For a moment,
may we close our eyes and,
in the darkness,
see and sense the Sacred within us,
the Presence of Jesus.
May we be comforted by His warmth and breathing.
Bless our leaders,
our Prime Minister, and
all who are struggling against the virus.
Grant them strength,
and so too key workers
and NHS staff.