John 13:21-33, 36-38
Judas’ Betrayal Announced; Peter’s Denial Predicted
Today’s gospel passage presents to us two kinds of betrayals: Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial. But what is the difference between the two betrayals? Judas’ betrayal was deliberate, cold and calculated. His is seen as the worst one. It is because when Jesus makes His appeal by showing special affection to him at the Last Supper through a gesture of offering him a morsel of food, very sadly, Judas rejects this act of our Lord’s reaching to him in love and compassion. In the Jewish society, a gesture of offering a morsel of food is an act done by one who considers the other person a genuine and intimate friend.
While Peter, in a moment of weakness, denies Him with an oath and a curse. He never meant to do what he did. Jesus knows both the strength of Peter’s loyalty and the weakness of his resolution. He has a habit of speaking with his heart without thinking through the implications of what he was saying. He acts impulsively out of weakness and cowardice.
All of us have weaknesses. But God loves to use weak people. In fact, we have a bundle of imperfections be it: physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. We may also have some uncontrollable circumstances that weaken us, like: financial and relational constraints. But what is more important is what we do with regards to these. Sad to say, many of the things we have done regarding these matters are: we deny our weaknesses, defend them, excuse them, justify them, hide them, resent them and this prevents God from using these weaknesses the way He desires.
God has a different outlook when it comes to our weaknesses. He says: “My ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts,” (Is. 55:9). Through these words, we can say that He often acts in ways that are the exact opposite of what we expect. The Bible gives us so many examples by which God loves to use imperfect, ordinary people to do extraordinary things in spite of their weaknesses and one of them is St. Paul.
Rick Warren in his book, The Purpose Driven Life (pp. 272-278), suggests to us on what to do so that God can use us and that is, by allowing Him to work through our weaknesses:
First, admit your weaknesses. Let us own our imperfections, stop pretending that we have it all together and be honest with ourselves. Instead of living in denial or making excuses, let us take the time to identify our personal weaknesses. We might make a list of them.
Second, be content with your weaknesses. Contentment is an expression of faith in the goodness of God. There are reasons to be content with our weaknesses according to St. Paul (2Cor 12:7, 9-10), like: they cause us to depend on God; prevent arrogance and keep us humble; encourage fellowship between believers; increase our capacity for sympathy.
Third, honestly share your weaknesses. St. Paul openly shared his failures (Rom 17:19), his feelings (2Cor 6:11), his frustrations (2Cor 1:8) and his fears (1Cor 1:3). Of course weaknesses can be risky because it can lower our defenses and open up our lives to others; there is a risk of rejection. But it is emotionally liberating. Opening up relieves stress, diffuses fears and is the first step to freedom.
Lastly, glory in your weaknesses. When Satan points out our weaknesses, let us thank him and agree with him and fill our hearts with praise for Jesus who ‘understands every weaknesses of ours,’ (Heb 4:1) and for the Holy Spirit who ‘helps us in our weaknesses,’ (Rom 8:26). And so let us ponder: Do I limit God’s power in my life by trying to hide my weaknesses?
Let us always remember that God works best when we admit our weaknesses.