Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.
On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’”
So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.”
Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
In traditional Lenten terminology, today was called “Spy Wednesday.” A glance at our Gospel passage explains this: it describes uncovering the only “spy” among the twelve apostles. In naming him, Jesus uses the same word Judas had used in going to the High Priests: “betrayal”. Few men are more universally despised throughout history than “traitors,” and few do as much to destroy the trust essential for good human interaction.
Ironically, the rest of the twelve would turn out to be not much better than Judas. None of them had the courage to stick by Jesus once he was arrested. Peter betrayed him three times, under oath; the rest made themselves scarce to avoid any sign of complicity with a man condemned as a criminal. We need to be careful about judging them harshly: how many of us would have done any differently – or have done any differently — when put to a similar test, terrified by similar danger? How different are we from Judas Iscariot, the spy?
Perhaps in only one way, but a crucial one: so far we have been able to tell God we’re sorry for our betrayals, whether small or large. Judas’ fatal sin was not to be able to do that. Our repentance has saved us, not our antecedent courage in temptation.
On this late day in Lent, I turn to God not with pride of achievement, but in humble gratitude for the forgiveness my weakness has found. And with a heartfelt prayer that I may never again find myself a “spy” in Jesus’ company – or at least that, if I do, I may quickly beg the same forgiveness. For that, Lord Jesus, I place my trust in you!.
—Fr. John J. O’Callaghan, S.J. is senior chaplain for the health sciences division at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood IL.
Jesus Christ, may your death be my life. May your struggles be my rest, Your human weakness my courage, Your embarrassment my honor, Your passion my delight, Your sadness my joy. In your humiliation may I be exalted. May I find all my blessings in your trials. Amen.
—St. Peter Faber, S.J.Please share the Good Word with your friends!