Welcome to ‘By Stony Paths, following the way of the Cross. Using scripture, symbols and time for reflection as we journey with Jesus through Holy Week.
Today is Wednesday in Holy Week, and our reading is John 13.21-27 where Jesus talks about his betrayal.
The symbols you are invited to use with today’s meditation are the stone and something broken, perhaps a piece of broken crockery
If you don’t already have them with you, I suggest you pause this and find them for yourself.
I invite you now to settle down, sit comfortably in a space where you can relax and be attentive to this time of prayerful meditation.
Let yourself stop, perhaps close your eyes and become still and more relaxed.
Take time to be aware of God’s welcoming you to be present as you come to be with Christ today.
As you settle, become aware of how you are feeling about coming to this time today. Your hopes, your concerns. Notice your desire to be with Jesus.
Tell God, simply openly, and ask for God’s grace to help you in this time.
Imagine yourself there – with everyone around the table – in easy company with Jesus
And then he says ‘Very truly I tell you one of you will betray me! Let yourself feel those words’
Notice your reaction – as you feel the broken piece you have in your hand. Press against a sharp edge – and let the sharpness connect with the sharp effect of Jesus’ pronouncement.
Is it me, who is it he means?
As you feel the sharpness of the broken piece, notice your knowledge of your own ability to betray. Perhaps something particular comes to mind, perhaps a general sense, stay with it for these moments
Let yourself tell Jesus about what has emerged…
Returning to the scene – in your minds eye, watch Jesus dip a piece of bread in the dish and give it to Judas. He hasn’t banished his betraying friend from the table, but offered him food. Notice how he looks at Judas as he does this.
Ponder the heart of Jesus, as you feel the weight of the stone in your other hand. Can you sense his heart for Judas, his heart for you, and your capacity to betray?
Now bring your hands together so that gently they enfold the stone and the broken piece. Stay in Jesus presence…
talk to Jesus about what has emerged for you…
Notice any response from him
Ask for help in your faithfulness, and your loving…
O Lord hear my prayer, and let my cry come unto thee.
Tomorrow is Maundy Thursday and our gospel reading will be John 13.2-17 Where at the last supper Jesus washes his disciples feet.
The symbol that I suggest you find to go alongside your stone is a small towel and a small bowl of water
The psalms that can be read before listening to the podcast are Psalm 42 & 43
May God bless your Holy Week journey.
Reflections on betrayal
Experiencing betrayal is, in my experience grim. It pierces, the sense of broken relationship, broken commitment, cuts deep and can be hard to escape. I do not want to have those who have betrayed in my company. But Jesus with Judas is somewhat different. The gospel texts leave a great openness as to what Jesus feels about Judas. He tells Judas to do quickly what he is going to do, but he doesn’t stop him or advise him not to. What Jesus doesn’t do here is exercise his power. He does offer hospitality. He is the host of this meal, and even though he knows Judas will betray him (and Peter will deny him) he maintains his hospitality to them both.
There is a deep love and a profound grace in this, that humanly in our primarily transactional thinking about how the world is (always seeing things in terms of give and take or how I will benefit from what I give) makes no sense. This is the profound mystery of the graciousness of God exemplified in Jesus – its never self-interested, gracious, gratuitous, generous love, can only love for the sake of loving. Looked at with this perspective there is a sharp contrast revealed in this passage between Judas and Jesus.
It seems we can be so focused on the negative actions of Judas that we miss the awesome grace of Jesus. I am moved by his capacity to hold in his hospitality those who will betray and deny, those who will flee his arrest. Which means of course that he holds me too in this hospitality – may ability to betray, deny, flee from being with Jesus.