Holy Thursday – Judas and Peter

“We are pilgrims on a journey.
We are brothers on the road.
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load.”
(The servant song)

“Knowing that“ his hour had come,” Jesus chooses to spend the last night of his life with his closest companions, one of whom would betray him, another who would deny him, all of whom would abandon him when he was arrested. What he does as he faces his own death is astonishing. He takes off his outer robe, wraps a towel around himself, and washes the feet of his companions, just as a slave would do. In all likelihood there would have been someone other than Jesus who welcomed the Teacher and his disciples when they arrived for the meal by washing their feet. So it would have come as a surprise on a number of different levels to the disciples when Jesus got up, as John tells us, in the course of the supper, and began to wash their feet. Why is the Teacher doing this? Why is he doing this now? As Jesus approaches the disciple who would deny him not once, but three times, Simon Peter objects: “Would you wash my feet, Lord? You will never wash my feet!” This emphatic “never” echoes Peter’s response as remembered by Matthew to Jesus’ first prediction of his suffering and death in Jerusalem. “This must never happen to you!” he had objected. Here at this last supper, Peter, like the other disciples, seems no closer to understanding his Teacher’s mission than he was when they began their journey to Jerusalem.”

Homily of Fr. Russell McDougall on Holy Thursday at Ecce Homo

Judas was not born a traitor and was not when he was chosen by Jesus, he became one! Jesus never abandoned him. Who can tell what happened to him in those last moments? “Friend,” (Mt 26, 50), was the last word Jesus told him in the garden and he could not have forgotten it, how could he not have forgotten his look.

In the same way that Jesus sought the face of Peter after his denial to give him his forgiveness, he will have sought also the face of Judas at some point on his way of the cross! When on the cross Jesus says: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34), certainly does not excluded Judas.

“Who shall we follow, Judas or Peter? Peter had remorse for what he had done, but Judas also had remorse, so much so that he shouted, “I betrayed innocent blood!” And returned the thirty pieces of silver. Where, then, is the difference? In only one thing: Peter had confidence in the mercy of Christ, Judas not! Judas’ greatest sin was not to have betrayed Jesus, but to have doubted his mercy. If we imitate him, let us not imitate him in his lack of trust in forgiveness.”

Homily of Pope Francis in Holy Thursday, 2014

There is a sacrament in which it is possible to make a safe experience of Christ’s mercy: the sacrament of reconciliation. How beautiful is this sacrament! It is sweet to experience Jesus as a Master, as Lord, but even sweeter to experience him as Redeemer: as one who takes you out of the abyss.

Lúcia de Fátima NDS,
Novice Congregational Novitiate Ein Karem
Jerusalem April 20, 2017