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The Tragedy of Judas
Wednesday of Holy Week
Then 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: Jesus, I am filled with sadness when I remember how Judas betrayed you. I’m sorry for all the times when my own sins have caused you pain. Help me to trust in your Divine Mercy when I fall and come to you with a contrite heart.
- The Wages of Sin: Judas was called to be an apostle, one of Christ’s chosen Twelve. What a tragedy that a man who was so close to Christ became his betrayer. Judas looked to gain something from his relationship with Christ: “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” (Matthew 26:15). Sin causes us to trade our most priceless gift–everlasting life–for fleeting pleasures. In the end, Judas got thirty pieces of silver, such a pittance for the Son of Man. As St. Paul asks, “…what profit did you get then from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:21, 23). What do we want to gain from our relationship with Christ? Are the things we do meant to build up his kingdom in thanksgiving for the gift of everlasting life, or are they for our own glory?
- Denial and Despair: Judas answered Jesus’s question about who would betray him with a deceitful question: “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” (Matthew 26:25). Judas is clearly lying here, but could he also be in denial about his betrayal? Later Judas despaired for his sin and he committed suicide (Matthew 27:5). Denial and despair can be common reactions when we realize the gravity of our sin. The greatest tragedy of Judas was that he forgot God’s merciful love. St. John Paul II wrote, “mercy is the greatest of the attributes and perfections of God…” (Dives in Misericordia, 13). When we have sinned, may we always look to God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
- The Hour of Divine Mercy: Jesus announced “My appointed time draws near” (Matthew 26:18). The hour of his Divine Mercy was approaching. It was the hour of his Passion and Death on the Cross when he fulfilled his mission of salvation for all who believe in him (Romans 10:9-11). The holiest days of the year, the Easter Triduum, draw near. Let us prepare our hearts to enter into the mystery of our King and Savior’s hour. May we honor his most merciful gift to us: his life that he gave “as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
Conversing with Christ: Oh my Jesus, I marvel at your mercy. You, for whom all things were made, gave us everything because of your immense love for us. I am struck with wonder and gratitude. Please help me to trust in your Divine Mercy.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will plan to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation this week if I have not already done so during Lent.
For Further Reflection: Learn more about the hour of Divine Mercy here: The Hour of Great Mercy.
Written by Carey Boyzuck