Daily Bulletin – 4/17/19
One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went off to the chief priests and said, “How much will you give me if I hand him over to you?” They promised to give him thirty pieces of silver, and from then on he kept looking for the best way to hand him over to them.
On the first day of the Festival of the Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and said to him, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?” Jesus answered, “Go into the city, to the house of a certain man, and tell him: ‘The Master says: My hour is near, and I will celebrate the Passover with my disciples in your house’”. The disciples did as Jesus had ordered and prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, Jesus sat at table with the Twelve. While they were eating, Jesus said” Truly, I say to you: one of you will betray me”. They were deeply distressed and asked him in turn, “You do not mean me, do you, Lord?” He answered, “he who will betray me is one of those who dips his bread in the dish with me. The Son of Man is going as the Scriptures say He will. But alas for that one who betrays the Son of Man; better for him not to have been born”. Judas, who was betraying him, also asked, “You do not mean me, Master, do you?”. Jesus replied, “You have said it”. (Matthew 26,14-25)
Judas never believed that in betraying Jesus he was handing him over to a sentence of torture and death. He was shocked later when the chief priests and the Sanhedrin declared that Jesus must die and brought him before Pontius Pilate. He never thought that he was going to kill Jesus by betraying him. And as we say it we should realize retrospectively what Judas never grasped prospectively, that our sins, whether venial or mortal with respect to God’s presence within our soul, are all fatal when it comes to Jesus.
Grasping this will strengthen us in the fight against sin that is supposed to continue well beyond the end of Lent. We would never gossip if we knew that our gossip would kill Jesus or kill someone else. We’d never steal if we knew that our theft would murder Jesus or murder someone else. We’d never neglect a needy person if we knew that as a direct result Jesus would die or that that Lazarus at our gates would die through our omission. But the spiritual reality is that our sins are really what led to Jesus’ death. He died to take away our betrayals, our infidelities, our iniquities. Like Judas, we don’t want Jesus to die, but unlike Judas, we now know in hindsight what our sins will do and have done.
On this last day of Lent — tomorrow we enter into a new liturgical season, the shortest of the year, the Blessed Triduum — it’s key for us to grasp what the Lord is calling us to do as we turn away from sin and are faithful to the Gospel. The word of what our sins have done to Jesus should arouse us to contrition, to repentance, to amendment. Jesus wants us to have that same firm resolve to set our faces toward him with trust and not to rebel or to turn back. He preaches this eloquent “word” to arouse the “weary,” because he knows that more than anything else our sins wear us down. We’re also worn down by trying to struggle against evil on our own without God. He comes to join us in that fight.
The words Jesus preaches to the weary are “This is my Body, which will be given up for you,” “This is the chalice of my blood,” and “Do this in memory of me!” This is what gives us the strength to set our faces like flint toward Calvary and not turn back. Similarly, we’re called to hunger as the “appointed time draws near” and to arrange our hearts and souls so that Jesus may celebrate the Passover within us, helping us to pass with him from death into life. The Lord in his great love has indeed answered us. He has given us himself to strengthen us not to betray him, not to hand him over to those who want to abuse him, but to give him to the Father and ourselves with him and in that act give ourselves over to others for the salvation of the world.
Prayer of The Day
Lord, I have betrayed you so many times, even when I do such a simple thing as not saying grace in a restaurant out of fear that others will notice. May the experience of your Passion and death help me to have the courage to live by my convictions at all times.
However we look at it, the tragedy of Judas is that he refused to accept Jesus as he was and tried to make him what he wanted him to be. It is not Christ who should be changed by us, but we who must be changed by him. We can never, and must never, use God for our purposes.
The tragedy of Judas is that of a man who thought he knew better than God. As we enter even deeper into the mystery of Holy Week, Christ invites us to do what he did, to put our lives in God’s hands and say with him: “Father, not mine, but your will be done”