In today’s Gospel we consider the hearts of two disciples: a traitor and a coward. John describes Satan as entering into Judas; he’s just accepted a morsel, a token of friendship, from Our Lord, and in complete duplicity goes out into the night to betray him. It is reminiscent of one of the last arguments Our Lord had with the Jews who didn’t believe in him: they didn’t believe in the Father, therefore they didn’t believe in Jesus, and their “father” was the Devil. If Judas ever believed in Jesus, he doesn’t believe in him anymore, and it was time for him to stop making any pretense of following him and to cash in.
Maybe Simon Peter didn’t understand Our Lord’s announcement of his departure entirely, but in his heart and in the last weeks they’d live together he knew it was a matter of life and death. His noble aspiration of unfailing dedication to Our Lord, even until death, was expressed. Perhaps it was prophetic, but Simon Peter’s “hour” had not yet come. Our Lord prepared him for the cowardice he would soon show, not in condemnation, but to help him grow in self-knowledge. Simon Peter would discover it himself, the hard way, but was not a lost cause. In the end he did lay down his life for Our Lord, years later, in Rome.
Our Lord reads hearts. He wants to read yours and help you to learn more about yourself this Holy Week. If you’re a coward, he’ll help you discover that and overcome it. Don’t be afraid to let him. The difference between Judas and Peter is that Judas shut everyone out of his heart, and Peter didn’t. As long as you foster an open heart, there is hope.