Jesus identifies Judas Iscariot as his betrayer-to-be. “The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.” (John 13:19) When Peter leans over to Jesus and asks who the betrayer is, Jesus told him it would be the one Jesus fed with bread and wine. The gospel writer John explains that Satan had entered into Judas in the moment he consumed the bread. Jesus told him to do what he had to do quickly.
I wonder whether the evangelist John, in saying “Satan entered in to him,” was trying to apologize for Judas’ actions, suggesting that Judas might not have been in his right mind.
In contrast to the abrupt departure of Judas, Jesus confronts the betrayal by continuing to teach the remaining disciples, giving them the ultimate teaching of the “Mandatum,” the new commandment: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you should also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
The account reveals a Jesus who courageously deals with betrayal and rejection. How do we handle events in our lives when we feel betrayed or rejected? Perhaps we replay our old tapes and still smart at the stinging wounds from people who have deliberately tried to hurt us. But we should remember that at the core of our faith in the midst of Holy Week is the anticipation of creating new life out of death-dealing events of the pas or present.
In the face of impending danger, Jesus told the disciples to love one another. Loving everyone, especially those who harm us, is nearly impossible without a great deal of spiritual strength.
But even in the midst of betrayal and rejection, we are divinely called to defy evil and claim Jesus’ command to love one another as our principal motivation for actively living a holy life.