It takes boldness to be a great sinner or a great saint. Most people prefer to sit somewhere in between in the world of small sins.

As Jesus gathered with his disciples before his passion, we have two extreme positions taken by two of the disciples. The beloved Disciple, who we could assume is John, is leaning against the breast of Jesus in intimate trust. On the other side is Judas, who decides to betray Jesus. In between these two figures are the other ten apostles who sit in silence. We do not know what they were thinking at this time. Some of them may have had the same doubts that Judas, or the same trust and devotion as John. But none of them had the courage or boldness to act on what was in their heart. The other ten did not betray Jesus, but they did run away instead of going to the cross with their Lord.

We could say that this is a reflection of the whole church. There are a very small number of people who rebel against Christ, in the same way that there are very few who take up the challenge to become saints. Most of us live in this in-between space. We may have the desire to follow Jesus to the cross, but in our fear we end up following everyone else, staying in the ‘safe’ place of our cowardice.

Perhaps this is why Jesus says that the tax-collectors and sinners are the first the enter the kingdom. They had the boldness to go against the crowd and sin in a big way; so once they encounter Christ, they are able to turn that same boldness towards holiness. We need to look deeply at the image of Jesus upon the cross with only one of his disciples standing with him. Out of the twelve in the story, who do we want to be?