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Liturgical day: Tuesday of Holy Week

1st Reading (Isa 49:1-6): Hear me, o islands, listen, o distant peoples. The Lord called me from birth, from my mother's womb he gave me my name. He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me. You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory. I thought: «I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength».

Yet my reward is with the Lord, my recompense is with my God. For now the Lord has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb, that Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him. And I am made glorious in the sight of the Lord, and my God is now my strength! It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel. I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
Responsorial Psalm: 70
R/. I will sing of your salvation.
In you, o Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice rescue me, and deliver me; incline your ear to me, and save me.

Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for you are my rock and my fortress. O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked.

For you are my hope, o Lord; my trust, o God, from my youth; on you I depend from birth; from my mother's womb you are my strength.

My mouth shall declare your justice, day by day your salvation. O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.
Verscicle before the Gospel (): Hail to you, our King, obedient to the Father; you were led to your crucifixion like a gentle lamb to the slaughter.

Gospel text (Jn 13,21-33.36-38): Jesus was distressed in spirit and said plainly, «Truly, one of you will betray me». The disciples then looked at one another, wondering who He meant. One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved, was reclining near Jesus; so Simon Peter signaled him to ask Jesus whom He meant. And the disciple who was reclining near Jesus asked him, «Lord, who is it?». Jesus answered, «I shall dip a piece of bread in the dish, and he to whom I give it, is the one». So Jesus dipped the bread and gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. And as Judas took the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus then said to him, «What you are going to do, do quickly». None of the others reclining at table understood why Jesus said this to Judas. As he had the common purse, they may have thought that Jesus was telling him, «Buy what we need for the feast», or, «Give something to the poor». Judas left as soon as he had eaten the bread. It was night.

When Judas had gone out, Jesus said, «Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. God will glorify him, and He will glorify him very soon. My children, I am with you for only a little while; you will look for me, but, as I already told the Jews, so now I tell you: where I am going you cannot come». Simon Peter said to him, «Lord, where are you going?». Jesus answered, «Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but afterwards you will». Peter said, «Lord, why can't I follow you now? I am ready to give my life for you». Jesus answered, «To give your life for me! Truly, I tell you, the cock will not crow before you have denied me three times».

«It was night»

Fr. Jean GOTTIGNY
(Bruxelles, Belgium)

Today, Holy Tuesday, the liturgy emphasizes the drama which is about to develop and will end with the crucifixion in Good Friday. «Judas left as soon as he had eaten the bread. It was night» (Jn 13:30). It is always night when we move away from he who is «light from light, true God from true God» (Nicaea-Constantinople Symbol).

The sinner turns his back on the Lord to gravitate around the created things, without referring them to its Creator. St. Augustine describes sin as «as a love of self to the point of despising God». That is, a betrayal. A prevarication that is the fruit of «an arrogance with which we want to emancipate from God and be only ourselves; an arrogance which makes us believe we do not need the eternal love; an arrogance with which we wish to become the only masters of our own life» (Benedict XVI). We may understand that Jesus, that night, has felt «distressed in spirit» (Jn 13:21).

Fortunately, sin is not the last word. The last word is God's mercy. This means, however, a “change” on our side. Inverting the situation to part from all creatures and become attached to God to find again the true freedom. Nevertheless, to change to God we should not wait to become sick of the false freedom we have been using. As Louis Bourdaloue denounces, «we would like to convert when we would get tired of this world or, rather, when the world would get tired of us». We should know better than that. Let us make up our mind right now. Easter time is the adequate time. In the Cross, Christ opens his arms wide to all of us. Nobody is excluded. Every repented thief has his place in Paradise. On condition, however, to change his life and remedy his shortcomings, like the thief in the Gospel: «And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal» (Lc 23:41).

«Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him»

+ Fr. Lluís ROQUÉ i Roqué
(Manresa, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, we are given to contemplate Jesus in the darkness of His Passion days. Darkness that will be over when He will exclaim: «It is finished» (Jn 19:30); as of that moment, Easter's light will flare up. In Easter's glowing night —in opposition to the darkness of the vigil of his death— Jesus' words will become true: «Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him» (Jn 13:31). We can indeed say that each step Jesus takes is a step from death to Life and it has a Paschal character, expressed by an attitude of total obedience to the Father: «I have come to do your will» (Heb 10:9); attitude corroborated by words, gestures and deeds which are opening the way to his glorification as the Son of God.

Today, we also contemplate the person of Judas, the traitor apostle. And his heart, full of evil intentions he is seeking to dissimulate; hipocritically, he is also trying to cover up the greediness that rules and blinds him, despite he is so close to him, who is the Light of the world. In spite of being surrounded by Light and exemplar unselfishness, for Judas «it was night» (Jn 13:30): thirty silver coins, «the devil's excrement» —as Papini qualified money— have dazzled and gagged him. Dominated by avidity, he betrays and sells Jesus, the most honored amongst honored men; but Judas experienced despair too, for money is not everything and it can definitely enslave us.

Finally, we consider Peter with attention and devotion. Everything in him is good will, love, generosity, simplicity, nobility... He is Judas' counterpoint. It is true that three times Peter denied Jesus, but his intentions were not mean; he just did it out of cowardice and human feebleness. «He denied him for the third time, and when Jesus Christ looks at him, he immediately cried, and bitterly he cried» (Saint Ambrose). Peter's remorse and repentance was sincere as shown by his excruciating pain full of love. This is why, Jesus afterwards, reaffirmed him in the vocation and in the mission He had prepared for him.