Wednesday of Holy Week
1st Reading: Is 50:4-9a
The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue, That I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear; And I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame. He is near who upholds my right; if anyone wishes to oppose me, let us appear together. Who disputes my right? Let him confront me. See, the Lord GOD is my help; who will prove me wrong?
Gospel: 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.”
Your will be done! A reader of crime novels is intrigued by the way the investigators explain the motive for the crime. When the motive is left hanging, the narration seems incomplete. Similarly, biblical scholars ponder on the possible motive of Judas Iscariot for betraying his Master. Was it avarice for money, hatred for the Master or what was it? Most conclude that Judas felt that Jesus was too slow in his messianic strategy and wanted to force Jesus to act. In resisting any physical arrest, he thought Jesus would react against the authorities. These scholars see the suicide of Judas as confirming the hypothesis – Judas was so heartbroken when his strategy failed, he went and hung himself. Judas did not accept the way of Jesus. Perhaps the appropriate epitaph on Judas’s tomb would have been: Here lies a man who thought he knew better than God! Sometimes we also fall into the same trap, thinking we know better than God and want Him to fall into our purpose.
PRAYER: Amidst life complexities, Lord, help us to always embrace you and always seek your will in all things. Amen!
Betrayal of Judas: “Truly Jesus is the suffering servant presented to us by Isaiah. He accepts suffering for the atonement of our sins. Judas plays a significant role in handing over Jesus to suffer, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” Through this question, Judas betrays Jesus, handing him over to the chief priests. Jesus knew of this betrayal and had announced it during the Passover meal. Meals are moments of togetherness, moments of love and family unity. Through meals we gain trust with each other. For Judas to start the betrayal at a meal, was a show of deep evil. Jesus however, responds to this in love. This indeed is the true Shepherd who lays down His life for His flock. Through this deep act of faith, let us learn to accept and forgive our enemies.
Prayer: God may your love surpass my iniquity.
IN YOUR HOUSE I SHALL CELEBRATE THE PASSOVER: The address of the house where Jesus wants to celebrate the Passover remains open. Perhaps it is meant for anyone to avail his or her house for this great feast. The disciples have the task of taking out Jesus’ message: “The teacher says my appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.” It is up to them prepare the people for the festive encounter. Even if Jesus is aware that he is going to be betrayed, he expresses his desire to come near to people. It is in this encounter that one passes over from the old to a new self. It may also be a painful opportunity for realizing one’s potential to betray the Master who has really become a friend. In fact, where there is light, shadows appear more clearly. Jesus reclines at table when it is dark outside. His presence inside the house makes one aware of the dark spots in host’s house.
SURELY IT IS NOT I, RABBI? The description of the last supper both in the synoptic gospels and in John is very dramatic. Meal times are generally meant to be moments of celebrating family togetherness. Parents often try to keep certain topics out of conversion, so as to avoid quarrels, walking out, or throwing food at each other. When we eat with a heaviness of heart, the food does not go down well. In John, the last supper starts with the washing of the feet by Jesus in a very dramatic and educative style. Soon it moves into a somber mood. Jesus is aware of his impending arrest, suffering and death, and involves his disciples in this awareness through conversation during the last supper. At the center of this conversion is the betrayal by one of them and denial by another. Everyone is somehow doubtful of himself and rushes to ask, “Is it I, Lord?” Am I also doubtful of my own loyalty to Jesus?