Isaiah 49: 1-6
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 labored 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 honored in the sight of the Lord,
and my God has become my strength—
“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.”
Psalm 71: 1-6ab, 15, 17
In you, O Lord, I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me;
incline your ear to me and save me.
Be to me a rock of refuge,
a strong fortress,[a] to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.
For you, O Lord, are my hope,
my trust, O Lord, from my youth.
Upon you I have leaned from my birth;
it was you who took me from my mother’s womb.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
of your deeds of salvation all day long,
though their number is past my knowledge.
O God, from my youth you have taught me,
and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
John 13: 21-33, 36-38
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.
Two days before Holy Thursday, we recount one of these last dialogues between Jesus and His disciples. Though the disciples were unaware, they had reached the end of one chapter of their journey with the Lord, and were about to begin another. They were all in different places in their walk with the Lord, and all responded differently to His words in the Gospel passage and to what was lying ahead.
Judas, despite his time and closeness to the Lord, still allowed sin to take a foothold within him and chose this sin over Jesus. John, lying on the Lord’s chest, clung to the Lord as much as he could, yet did not quite understand Jesus’ words when He answered him directly. And Peter thought he knew himself and his intentions regarding the Lord, but was still allowing himself to be led by his flesh and was not fully open to what Jesus was saying about following Him. Yet the time had come for Jesus – and the disciples – to face the Cross.
Can you relate to the disciples in this passage? Have you ever had a trial come upon you suddenly, or come into a new season that you did not quite feel prepared for? How did it change you?
In last Tuesday’s readings, Jesus told the Pharisees that they could not follow where He was going, yet He told Peter today that he would “follow later.” Indeed, the road to holiness will take us to the Cross. This is a mystery that confounded the Pharisees, and also confused the disciples at first, but the ones who truly desired to follow Him came to embrace this mystery later and to walk a similar path. In our own lives, the Lord will also call us to face the Cross. Whether this comes in the form of a particular trial or in the day-to-day need to die to our own selfishness, the Cross is unavoidable if we truly desire to be close to the Lord. The difference between whether our temptations and trials will lead to sanctity or into sin, however, is in our response to them. The key is to walk with Jesus. No matter what we are going through, if we cling to Him and keep our eyes on Him, He promises to walk with us and to eventually bring us to a place of Resurrection and a deeper revelation of Himself.
In these last days before the Triduum, offer the Lord your Lenten journey and the Easter season that lies ahead. Whether you feel like Lent was a blessed time or if you struggled, whether you feel like you grew in holiness or can only see more areas where you need to grow, trust that the Lord is at work with you and in you, and resolve anew to follow Him with all your heart. Rejoice in His calling to follow Him to the Cross and share in His Resurrection, and anticipate the Triduum with faith and joy in His power to redeem, sanctify, and bring new life.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the gift of your Cross. Thank you for your sacrifice for me, and your call to come closer to you. During this Holy Week and upcoming Triduum, help me to embrace your Cross in my own life and to walk with you bravely into whatever season lies ahead. I love you Lord and trust in you. Amen.