Holy Week, Wednesday, March 31
Isaiah 50:4-9 / Matthew 26:14-25
Jesus speaks about his betrayer; Judas said, "Surely it is not I?"
Judas was able to conceal his plan from the other disciples, but he wasn't able to conceal it from Jesus. And this allows us to see how Jesus deals with sinners. One of the greatest mysteries of life is the tremendous respect God has for the free will of people.
Jesus didn't force sinners to change their lives. Rather, he invited them to change. He appealed to them to change. At every step of the way, Jesus dealt the same way with Judas. He made Judas the treasurer of the group. He invited him to eat the Last Supper, just as he did the others.
How open are we to Jesus' invitation to change our lives for the better? "Love is the only force that can make things one without destroying them." Teilhard de Chardin
Today we hear the bad news of the betrayal of Judas, together with the sad yet joyous good news of Jesus’ Passover meal with his disciples. “My time is near. I will keep the Passover with my disciples.” Jesus will eat the Passover meal surrounded by those who have followed him. The traitor leaves them to betray Jesus. But Jesus, the Servant of God and people, faces his death with the fullest trust in God. Jesus will celebrate this Passover in a new way making it the eucharist. This is like a testament he leaves his disciples. It is the deepest way he is going to stay among his disciples then and now.
Today’s gospel tells us how Judas finalized his plot to betray Jesus into the hands of the chief priests; in some places this day is referred to as "spy Wednesday." Though we realize that only God knows really in the heart of Judas, we do just why he turned traitor. Was it mere avarice? The gospel does call him a thief and relates that he stole from the common purse he held in trust for Jesus and the other apostles. But does it not seem that if he had had faith in Jesus, his faith should have conquered his greed?
The first mention of Judas as a traitor on the occasion Jesus promised that he would give his flesh to eat and his blood to drink. Jesus made that day of preaching on the Eucharist a supreme test of faith. When some of his own disciples walked away from him in protest that his words were hard to endure, he turned to the apostles to let them know that he demanded absolute faith as he asked, "DO you want to leave me too?" Though Peter manifested his faith in the name of the apostles, Jesus replied, "Have I not chosen you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil." And St. John comments, "Ile was speaking of Judas Iscariot . . . for he it was, though one of the twelve, who betray him" (Jn 6, 71-72).
It was from the supper table at Jesus instituted the Eucharist that Judas left to carry out his betrayal. The impression, at least, is left that Judas turned traitor because he had failed to pass the supreme test of faith in the Eucharist.
Tomorrow, Holy Thursday, we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist. Let us take that occasion to profess our complete faith in Jesus, and let us pray that our faith will make us loyal and faithful to him.
God our Father, when the hour of your Son Jesus had come to accept suffering and death out of love of you and his saving love for us, he did not refuse that suffering and deep pain. In the hour of trial that we may have to pass through, do not let us become rebellious but keep us trusting in you, for you save us through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen