Jesus has just finished washing the disciples’ feet when he jolts them with the news: “One of you will betray me.” The disciples look at one another. Who could Jesus be talking about? The scripture wastes no time convicting its readers. Even those closest to Jesus could be an accomplice in his death.
Imagining myself as one of the disciples, I’d like to think I could feel assured Jesus wasn’t talking about me; I suppose we all would like to feel the same way. But then my doubts creep in. And I wonder if some of you are unsure.
As we read, we can join the beloved disciple who asks, “Lord, who is it?” confident that we too warrant a special place next to Jesus. But in our living we have to wonder whether we might run off into the dark night with Judas.
Jesus responds, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” The disciples still do not understand. Evil enters a man who has just participated in a symbolic act that identifies him as the betrayer. And the disciples miss it. Their guilt-laden introspection blinds them to the evil swirling around them. While wondering whether they could be the culprits, they overlook evil incarnate. So it is with us.
We are on the march toward the cross. Jesus has told us that we must go with him if we are to be his disciples. The invitation certainly warrants introspection. We must consider the cost and our willingness to pay it. But our quest for internal assurance must not blind us to the external powers that assail the world. The disciples look inward and miss the external tragedy. May we learn from their mistake. Systemic evil abounds, and God calls us to confront it at the risk of losing our very lives.

When life forces us to look inward, O God, draw us out. When the world demands our immediate action, O God, draw us in. May we find balance in you. Amen.


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I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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