WEDNESDAY OF HOLY WEEK
READ: MATTHEW 26:14-25
One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?" They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over. On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, "Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?" He said, "Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, 'The teacher says, My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.'" The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover. When it was evening, he reclined at table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, "Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me." Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, "Surely it is not I, Lord?" He said in reply, "He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me. The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born." Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, "Surely it is not I, Rabbi?" He answered, "You have said so."
During the Gospel reading at Palm Sunday Mass and the Good Friday service, the people in the pews have a role. The congregation reads aloud the words "Let him be crucified" and "Crucify him"! This is far more than us just being actors in the re-telling of the Passion of Christ. These words are us admitting that all of us are the betrayers, are the reason that Jesus Christ was crucified. We may blame the Jewish authorities or look at Judas' decision with judgment, but "He was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins" (Isaiah 53:5).
We read in our passage today that Judas betrayed Jesus and handed Him over for thirty pieces of silver. That word betray comes from the Latin word that means "to hand over". And while we may not hand over our relationship with Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, we certainly hand Him over for other things--gossip, lust, selfishness, pride, vanity, anger, impatience, idolatry, envy, gluttony, lying, apathy. Our choosing of sin is our betrayal.
Though this is an uncomfortable reality to come face-to-face with, it should not lead us to approach God in fear of condemnation, but in gratitude for our salvation. We should stand in awe of a God "who proves His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). It should lead us to have sorrow for our sins. "They will look on him whom they have pierced and mourn" (Zechariah 12:10). And ultimately, it should lead us to conversion, the radical choice to turn back to Jesus after our betrayal. "It is in discovering the greatness of God's love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him. The human heart is converted by looking upon Him whom our sins have pierced" (CCC 1432). Today, let us be bold and humble enough to recognize our sinfulness...and then make the even bolder decision to turn back to Him.
What are your "thirty pieces of silver", those things that you hand Jesus over for?
When you acknowledge your sinfulness, what is your reaction? Are you prideful, rationalizing, fearful, despairing?
How can the acknowledgement of your sinfulness lead you to gratitude?
How can the acknowledgement of your sinfulness lead you to conversion?
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me. For your sake I bear insult, and shame covers my face. I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my mother's sons, because zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me. Insult has broken my heart, and I am weak, I looked for sympathy, but there was none; for consolers, not one could I find. Rather they put gall in my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. I will praise the name of God in song, and I will glorify him with thanksgiving: "See, you lowly ones, and be glad; you who seek God, may your hearts revive! For the LORD hears the poor, and his own who are in bonds he spurns not." R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
What has God convicted you of in prayer today?