A Thought from the Bishop’s Chapel — Tuesday, April 7

“And it was night” (John 13:30).  With those words in the Gospel of St. John, Judas Iscariot departs the supper. Our Lord has announced to them, “[O]ne of you will betray me” (John 13:21), handed the ambiguous morsel to Judas (John 13:26), and witnessed Satan enter the betrayer’s heart (John 13:27).  It is night, the beginning of darkness.  Preoccupied with this betrayal, we might miss how Chapter 13 ends, with the gallant protest of St. Peter: “I will lay down my life for you” (John 13:37).  To which our Lord will prophesy, “Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times” (John 13:38).   Two acts of infidelity, one a betrayal, the other a denial.  One will despair of it, the other will repent.  There is a lesson here.

What sort of disciple are we?  On one hand we have the disciple who is living a lie.  Pretending to be one of the group, profiting no doubt from any adulation or benefit, Judas hedges his bets, an expression that capsulizes the attitude.  “Hedging a bet” in an investment means you build a fence around your assets — a hedge, as it were — to protect yourself.  Hence, you limit loss by investing in another outcome.  In gambling, you bet on more than one runner in the race. 

On the other hand, we have the disciple who may be well-intentioned (John 13:37) but at the same time is weak and afraid.  He lacks strength.  Therefore, when the challenge comes, he denies our Lord (John 18:15-18, 25-27).  Some might say he loves the Master but not enough.  This realization comes crashing in on him with the cockcrow and the piercing glance of our Lord (Luke 22:60-62).  St. Peter weeps.  An assertion of bold assurance, followed by the reality of human weakness, and ending with heartfelt repentance is the story of any good disciple whose love must be perfected, and it serves as a lesson to us all.