Apr 12, 2017

Spy Wednesday

"One of you will betray me"

This Wednesday of Holy Week, in our Gospel for the morning Mass, we recall that event which the Gospel writers have related as a very dark moment in the story of the passion of Christ: the "betrayal" of Judas, one of Jesus' Apostles.

Did Judas deliberately turn on Jesus by secretly going to the authorities, accepting payment for his deed as promised by the chief priests (Mt 26: 14), and willingly turn him in to the arresting mob, soldiers, wishing him captured and crucified?  Why would he do such a thing?  There really isn't a clear explanation in the Gospels as to Judas' real motivation.  Why would he have turned on Jesus so blatantly and deliberately after the years of hearing his teachings, witnessing his miracles, seeing his compassion and knowing his wisdom and goodness?  Why?

Well, one book I read (Jesus: An historical approximation by Jose Pagola) on the life of our Lord implied that perhaps Judas real intention was not to see Jesus imprisoned and killed at all.  Rather, his intention was to contain Jesus and allow him to present himself to the chief priests in a display of his teaching and power.  The chief priests wanted to simply question Jesus and Judas felt that after that questioning, they would be see potential. When those authorities witnessed what Jesus could do, they would see him as a useful ally in their motives to rid the nation of Israel of the occupying Romans.  So, his motivation was to use Jesus for his own revolutionary purposes as Judas was aligned with the zealot party, a group wishing to rise up and expel the Romans essentially.

So, he assumed that the desire of the chief priests was more political and militaristic, rather than a target on the back of Jesus himself wishing him eliminated.  Once he realized their true reasons and how they had used him to achieve their end of capturing Jesus, he realized his motivation gone very bad and returned to them, flinging the coins, with deep regret over what he had done; but it was too late.  He deeply despaired and could not bring himself to return to the other Apostles, nor to face Jesus in any way, so he went out and hung himself.  How very sad but a betrayal nonetheless.

As we enter the sacred Triduum tomorrow, let's take a bit of time to recognize the times we have turned against our Lord and others.  The sins that Jesus sacrificed his life for are nailed to the cross we will reflect on Friday and through the glory of the resurrection, transformed into the promise of his mercy and forgiveness with the hope of eternal life.

Mt 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."