18 March 2008 Holy Tuesday
John 13, 21-38 Betrayals
To form a barkada or a group of friends is necessary in a very huge university such as UP. We remember the first time we came to the university and losing our way. We didn’t know how to get to Palma Hall, or where it was. We thought SC was Student Council, until we discovered the Shopping Center where everyone photocopied materials for class. Being lost was unpleasant and what assured us were the friends who, like us, were also finding their way into university. We would soon share our life and fears with them.
The greatest fear therefore was to lose our friends. To feel being left behind. To be alone and lonely. To be unable to find someone to turn to. Our friends became our security and our home away from our family. We were afraid to be betrayed, disowned and abandoned by them.
But this was precisely what happened to Jesus. I believe that the passion of Jesus was not all about physical pain. When I was growing up, my parents would lead the Stations of the Cross every Good Friday, and I thought that the extreme physical torture of Jesus was all there was. Like Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ.
I think the depth of Christ’s wounds was inflicted by his closest friends. Moreover, I think that it was not Judas who pained him so much but Peter, his bestfriend. Maybe this conviction is about me, putting myself in the shoes of Christ. Judas betrayed Jesus. But he was not his closest friend. And at least, the kiss was an acknowledgement of Jesus’ existence. Peter however denied him thrice; as if Jesus was an unknown in his life. Peter who was his bestfried disowned him. You see, we are hurt by the people close to us; the closer they are to us, the more they are capable of inflicting deeper wounds.
The message of the Gospel today is therefore the opposite of the theme of betrayal, disownment or abandonement in a group of friends. We are confronted with our loyalty in the midst of the temptation to abandon our closest friends. When are we tempted to disown them? First, we are tempted when our reputation is at stake. If a friend has committed a crime or a scandal, we are tempted to dissociate with them for fear our name will also be tarnished. Second, peer pressure. If another set of barkada do not like your friend, they will eventually ask you to join them in their hate. Third, individuation. When your friend, in his or her process of growth, do not anymore share the same interest as you, or their personality became weird and eccentric, the tendency is to abandon ship.
Even with God. If God didn’t answer your prayers or your professor would deny His existence, would you stay? If your loveones meet a tragic accident, would you remain with God? If there is no rewards and punishment, no heaven and earth, would you still love God?
Perhaps we can ask a question for reflection: what would make you remain faithful?