We are not always blessed by the company we keep.
This thought occurred to me, in reflecting on the gospel passage we hear on Tuesday of Holy Week.
John shows us Jesus, marking the great feast day in the company of friends. But it’s not much of a celebration, as things turn out. There’s Peter, to one side of the Lord…furtively engaged in a bit of gossip-mongering:
So Simon Peter nodded to [the Beloved disciple] to find out whom he meant. He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, “Master, who is it?”
Across the table sits Judas, the betrayer.
After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him.
And the whole crew seems a little bit clueless about the events that are about to unfold. You can just imagine them chiming in, eager to second Peter’s bravado:
“Master, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
Truth is, we sinners cannot always be counted upon. Certainly not when the chips are down. And even in the best of times, our selfishness…our obliviousness…our brokenness…can well up and destroy an otherwise delightful and fruitful experience.
People are like that. We just are.
So it was with some trepidation – and not a little prayerful petition – that Gerri and I (and our traveling companions) joined a group of about three dozen strangers on our recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Forty-plus people on a bus. Most of us, unfamiliar to each other.
That’s pretty much asking for trouble, isn’t it?
“Here comes everybody…”
But as I sat with today’s gospel, on Spy Tuesday – Tuesday of Holy Week, it occurred to me just how deeply blessed we had been…to have had these utter strangers as our close companions for our time in the Holy Land.
It’s amazing to consider how the Body of Christ grew in us during our two weeks together. It’s remarkable to think how (for the most part) we managed to set our brokenness, our self-centeredness aside – and become truly One for a time.
One, in Christ.
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.