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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Holy Tuesday
Memorial of missionary martyrs.

Reading of the Word of God

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

You are a chosen race,
a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
a people acquired by God
to proclaim his marvellous works.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

John 13, 21-33.36-38

Having said this, Jesus was deeply disturbed and declared, 'In all truth I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.'

The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he meant.

The disciple Jesus loved was reclining next to Jesus;

Simon Peter signed to him and said, 'Ask who it is he means,'

so leaning back close to Jesus' chest he said, 'Who is it, Lord?'

Jesus answered, 'It is the one to whom I give the piece of bread that I dip in the dish.' And when he had dipped the piece of bread he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot.

At that instant, after Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered him. Jesus then said, 'What you are going to do, do quickly.'

None of the others at table understood why he said this.

Since Judas had charge of the common fund, some of them thought Jesus was telling him, 'Buy what we need for the festival,' or telling him to give something to the poor.

As soon as Judas had taken the piece of bread he went out. It was night.

When he had gone, Jesus said: Now has the Son of man been glorified, and in him God has been glorified.

If God has been glorified in him, God will in turn glorify him in himself, and will glorify him very soon.

Little children, I shall be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and, as I told the Jews, where I am going, you cannot come.

Simon Peter said, 'Lord, where are you going?' Jesus replied, 'Now you cannot follow me where I am going, but later you shall follow me.'

Peter said to him, 'Why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.'

'Lay down your life for me?' answered Jesus. 'In all truth I tell you, before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.'


Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

You will be holy,
because I am holy, thus says the Lord.

Praise to you, o Lord, King of eternal glory

Jesus knows well that his hour is approaching - his death is not far off. Jesus’ heart is crowded with different, even conflicting, emotions: he does not want to die, but neither does he want to flee. Either way, the hour of his departure from this world to the Father has come. He is aware of it and wants to face it without vacillation. His soul is troubled, however, by his disciples’ reaction. Will the little group of disciples that he gathered, cared for, loved, and taught stay together? Will they be able to continue being together? Will they be strong enough to continue his work? The first very serious problem has already arisen: Judas is about to betray him. This disciple does not care that Jesus bent down to wash his feet. With feet that have been washed, touched, and maybe even kissed by Jesus, Judas is about to go out to betray his teacher. It is with great sadness that Jesus says to the apostles: “One of you will betray me.” Everyone is dismayed: the traitor is among them, the most intimate, closest friends. Jesus’ words are disturbing. Obviously it is not enough to be close to him physically. What count is whether our hearts are close to him, whether our feelings are like his, and whether we take part in his loving plan. We may even stay close to Jesus, following some devotional practices and continuing our religious rites and habits, but if we do not follow the word of the Lord with our heart, if we do not concretely practice love for the poor, if there is no concrete communion with our brothers and sisters, and if we do not commit ourselves to his vision for a world of justice and peace, then our heart drifts away, our minds become clouded, and we lose sight of the Lord’s loving dream. Clearly while Jesus’ face is obscured, our ego grows, along with our greed and selfishness. What had been love for Jesus is transformed into an obsession with ourselves and our possessions. Then it becomes natural to slip into betrayal. The battle between good and evil - between trust and distrust - is played out in our heart. And there can be no compromise. During these days, more than asking us to serve him, Jesus asks us to be near him, to accompany him, and not to leave him alone. If anything, he urges us to be attentive, not to slip into banality which keeps us from seeing those who are around us and blinds us to the evil that insinuates itself among people. Jesus tries to make the disciples understand this. But, starting with Peter, they do not understand. They are caught up in themselves and they do not allow their hearts to be touched by Jesus’ words. Betrayal comes from a heart that does not listen. If we put the words of the Gospel aside, our words, our thoughts, and our feelings prevail. We become capable of everything, even selling Jesus. We all need to be vigilant. Even though Peter and the other disciples who were with Jesus that night said they would be faithful to him till death, they betrayed him a few days later. We cannot rely on ourselves; we must entrust ourselves to the Lord’s love and protection every day.

Holy Tuesday