5th Sunday of Easter – 15th May 2022 — Gospel: Jn 13,31-33a.34-35
Model to Respond
John 13th Chapter describes the account of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples, in which we find that Jesus knows about many things and we admire the way he responds to the knowledge that he has. It begins, Jesus knows that his “hour has come to depart from this world and go to his Father” (Jn 13,1a). How does he respond? “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (Jn 13,1b). Further, He responds with an action. He gets up from the table and takes on the role of a slave, washing his disciples’ dirty feet.
Today’s Gospel text is sandwiched between Jesus foretelling of Judas’s betrayal and Peter’s denial. Here, Jesus knows who is about to betray him (Jn 13,11) and he is very much troubled by this knowledge (Jn 13,21). How does he respond? He announces the imminent betrayal to his disciples, and then proceeds to feed the betrayer: “So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot” (Jn 13,26). Instead of attacking Judas and the consequence of his actions, Jesus focuses on his mission and speaks of he being glorified and of glorifying God (Jn 13,31-32). In the conversion with Peter, Jesus responds by predicting Peter’s denial of him (Jn 13,38). Jesus knows that Peter, one of his closest companions, will deny him. Yet his parting words to his disciples focus not on blame for their past and future failures. In this context, Jesus taught the disciples in action how they were to live: they were to love one another. Knowing that he would be betrayed and denied by those whom he loved, Jesus continued to speak about love as the defining characteristic of his followers. As St.Paul teaches in 1 Cor 13,7, “(Love) bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” In Jesus’ example, we see that love isn’t based on the other person’s behaviour but on our relationship with the Lord.
Jesus reveals equality of love for both of his disciples. Jesus washes and feeds Judas who will betray him, Peter who will deny him, and all the rest who will fail to stand by him in his hour of greatest distress. The love that Jesus demonstrates is certainly not based on the merit of the recipients, and Jesus commands his disciples to love others in the same way.