View all Gospel Reflections |
The Plan Unfolds
Wednesday of Holy Week
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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, it is difficult to comprehend that a man who spent years with you, seeing firsthand your miracles, your goodness, and your love, could betray you. I love you and ask that you never permit me to be separated from you. Bless me as I contemplate your words.
- Judas’s Part: The Jewish elders had not sought Judas out. He actually went to them to see how much money they would give him to hand over Jesus. How could someone who lived and traveled with the Lord do something so evil? Judas had been helping himself to money from the common purse he kept for Jesus and the Apostles. He was already justifying his behavior, which hardened his heart toward Jesus. Over time, he became deaf to the message of the Gospel and he was ready to commit his ultimate betrayal. The enemy of his soul made efficient use of his unbridled passion, greed, and rationalization to bring about his destruction. We can also fall victim to betrayal of this caliber. Let us pray, with all humility, for the grace to avoid sin and the near occasions of sin so that we can be faithful servants of Jesus, our Savior.
- The Devil’s Part: There is much speculation about Judas’s motives. In Taylor Coldwell’s acclaimed historical fiction novel, I Judas, he is portrayed as a pawn, a zealot who hoped that creating a confrontation between Jesus and the authorities would force Jesus to unveil his power, free the Jews, and reinstate the golden age of Israel. Multiple times throughout the Gospels Judas was accused of being a thief. In John 13:27, we read that Satan entered him. Satan was a mortal threat to Judas and he is a threat to us as well. We engage in spiritual combat, fighting Satan head-on, whenever we reject temptation. Pope Francis explains, “Faith in God asks us to renew every day the choice of good over evil, the choice of the truth rather than lies, the choice of love for our neighbor over selfishness.”
- Better That He Had Never Been Born: Jesus was direct, stating that it would have been better for Judas if he had never been born. Indeed Scripture tells us twice of Judas’s regret and repentance. According to Matthew 27:3-10, he was bitterly repentant after he saw Jesus condemned to death. He returned the silver and hung himself from a Judas tree. In Acts 1:18, he “bought a field with the reward of his wickedness; and falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out.” Regardless of how Judas died, his remorse and regret are well documented. In October of 2006, Pope Benedict stated: “What is more, it darkens the mystery around his eternal fate, knowing that Judas ‘repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood”’ (Matthew 27:3-4). Even though he went to hang himself (cf. Matthew 27:5), it is not up to us to judge his gesture, substituting ourselves for the infinitely merciful and just God.”
Conversation with Christ: Lord, you are a merciful God and I know that you wish for my salvation. Root out anything in my life that could grow and separate me from you. Give me wisdom and prudence so that I can see where I need to be vigilant and strong. Save me from the enemy of my soul.
Resolution: Today I will pray the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel:
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and by the power of God, cast into Hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
For Further Reflection: General Audience Pope Benedict October 18, 2006.
Cathy Stamper lives in Maryland with her husband, Mike. They have been partners in business, marriage, and parenthood for over thirty-one years. She enjoys reading, daily Mass, the beach, exercise, and time spent with her five young adult children, large extended family, and friends. Cathy is a lay member of Regnum Christi, an occasional speaker at women’s retreats, and an active member of her parish and Walking with Purpose.