Scripture reflection: Wednesday of Holy Week13 Apr 2022
Scripture reflections for Holy Week Year C 2022, inspired by the writings of Henry Nouwen.
When evening came he was at table with the twelve disciples. And while they were eating he said ‘I tell you solemnly, one of you is about to betray me.’ They were greatly distressed and started asking him in turn, ‘Not I, Lord, surely?’ He answered, ‘Someone who has dipped his hand into the dish with me, will betray me. The Son of Man is going to his fate, as the scriptures say he will, but alas for that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! Better for that man if he had never been born!’ Judas, who was to betray him; asked in his turn, ‘Not I, Rabbi, surely?’ ‘They are your own words’ answered Jesus. – Matthew 26: 17-21
I settle myself in a place where I can be undisturbed for a while. I invite the Holy Spirit to be beside me, and to open my heart to what I need to hear. I read the text slowly, a couple of times, and then, in my imagination, enter the room with Jesus and the other disciples. As I look around the room, I see the table set ready for the Passover meal. If it helps, I might take a seat at the table, or perhaps I prefer to watch from a corner of the room.
What do I notice as Jesus speaks of the one who will betray him? How do the disciples react – are they disbelieving …? curious …? afraid that Jesus might mean them …? or …? I note Judas’s reaction as Jesus holds out the bread to him. Is he surprised – or did he know this was coming? What do I want to say to him as he reaches to take the bread from Jesus?
As Judas flees, perhaps I turn and see Jesus looking straight at me. What do I see in his eyes? What do I want to say to him about what I have witnessed? Maybe I recall times when I, too, wanted to run away and hide from a situation which was too hard to bear. I share my innermost thoughts and feelings with Jesus.
Perhaps this also brings to mind the reality I have witnessed over the past few weeks – that of countless innocent people faced with no choice but to flee from their homes, trying to keep their children and families safe. As I spend whatever time I can with Jesus, I ask for his loving protection for all those who have fled, and the ones they have had to leave behind.
your disciples wanted to know who would betray you.
You pointed to Judas … Judas betrayed you.
Lord give me faith, faith in your endless mercy,
your boundless forgiveness, your unfathomable goodness.
Let me not be tempted to think that my sins are too great to be forgiven,
too abominable to be touched by your mercy.
Let me never run away from you, but return to you again and again,
asking you to be my Lord, my Shepherd, my Stronghold, my Refuge.
Take me under your wing, O Lord,
and let me know that you do not reject me
as long as I keep asking you to forgive me.
Perhaps my doubt in your forgiveness is a greater sin
than the sins I consider too great to be forgiven.
Perhaps I make myself too important, too great
when I think I cannot be embraced by you any more.
Lord, look at me, accept my prayer,
and let me not run away from you in the night as Judas did.’
– Henri Nouwen, A Cry for Mercy (abbrev.)
St Bueno’s Outreach, Diocese of Wrexham, UK