"Surely not I."

Reading     Matthew 26:14-29


When evening came he was at table with the twelve disciples.

And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you solemnly, one of you

Is about to betray me. They were greatly distressed and started asking him in turn,

“Not I, Lord, surely?”

He answered, “Someone who has dipped his hand into the dish with me,

 will betray me.




Contrary of contraries.  This is a gospel of contraries.  Jesus, on the night of his last supper with his friends prepares to give Himself totally out of love, to be emptied completely, even to death. On the other hand, Judas, on this same night, comes to the evening meal preparing a betrayal of his friend, Jesus. In the same room and at the same table we have the epitome of selfless love and the abysmal depths of selfishness.   Judas sells out the very person who has invited him to His table.  Yet they sit down side by side at the same table.  As the song says, God and man at table have sat down.  In the guise of ‘friend’ Judas comes as enemy to His table.  Judas’ heart has fallen victim to sin. He misses the mark of being true to his deepest, most authentic self. Yet, where sin abounds, grace does more abound.  


Betrayal has to be the cruelest desecration of love.  A lover’s betrayal violates to the very core the bondedness of union.  And as we know later in the course of the evening conversation, Judas seals his betrayal with a kiss.  The kiss, which is for lovers the seal of their mutual self-gift, self-offering.  What desecration, what violence to love, not only to love, but to the very person of Love Himself. This treachery of Judas is recounted in all four Gospels, but lest we be too quick to cast the first stone upon Judas, each of the evangelists goes on to record what may seem to us as a striking insecurity in all those present that evening.  As Jesus foretells His betrayal, he looks around the table and sees each one was greatly distressed and started asking himself in turn: “Surely not I?”



Yes, “Surely not I?” They were shocked, taken aback, but as each one looked within their own conscience they realized the capacity for betrayal lurked within the very depths of their own hearts. They realized that of their own power, they could not be overly confident of their fidelity and the constancy of their love for their beloved Master, Jesus, especially when the going got rough.  No matter how strongly and convincingly they avowed their love of Him there was a contrary force, sin - that deep seated selfishness - that could within each one of them, likewise turn them into a betrayer.



Here on this night of Jesus’ last supper, in their experience of being loved so selflessly, so purely, so unconditionally, so totally, they faced in all the more intensity, the impurity, the selfishness, the incompleteness, the fickleness of their own loving.  They heard him say “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood”.  Take me, all of me, consume Me.  I am yours.  The wide disparity, the gulf between their capacity to love and His tremendous fullness of Love, gave them cause to tremble. They faced in all honesty their own capacity for betrayal, “Not I surely?” And at the same time they found their capacity for deep great loving, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”



In every human heart these contraries are enfleshed. The “surely not I” posture keeps us humble, dependent, reverent recipients of God’s great love and mercy. The “even unto death” posture keeps us ever straining forward, ever opened in readiness for the ultimate sacrifice of a perfect love.


Every Eucharist can be an intensification of our love communion. Each communion draws us closer to that day in which we can say with Jesus, in pure and perfect love, our self-gift to our Beloved Master.  “Take me, all of me, this is my body, this is my blood. Take me I’m yours.”


Carrying grace     I come to your table tonight with a grateful heart.


#1 arletteh 2010-03-31 23:36
"Even unto death!" The impulse to give all is so strong in the human soul!"The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak," and so, Jesus gives us His Body and Blood.:"this is My Body"'This is My Blood.I give you everything I am, all I have been,since the beginning and for eternity,moment by moment." The "surely not I ?"terror in the soul is soothed by the one and only gift that can do so,the gift of Jesus, the Christ.Thank God for nearness of the gift to the dreadful sin. Where sin abounds, love abounds even more!

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