Wednesday, March 23 ~ Holy Week
Holy Gospel: Matthew 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.”
Meditation: Origen, a 3rd century bible scholar and Father of the Church, comments on Judas’ betrayal: “Let us consider what Judas said to the Jewish priests: What will you give me if I hand him over to you? He was willing to take money in exchange for handing over the Word of God. They do the same thing who accept sensual or worldly goods in exchange for handing over and casting out from their souls the Savior and Word of truth who came to dwell with them. Indeed, it would be fitting to apply Judas’s example to all who show contempt for the Word of God and betray him, as it were, by committing sin for the sake of money or for any selfish motive. People who behave in this way appear openly to be calling out to the powers of the enemy who offer worldly gain in return for the sin of betraying God’s Word, saying, What will you give me if I hand him over to you? And they gave him thirty pieces of silver. The number of coins they gave Judas was equivalent to the number of years the Savior had sojourned in this world. For at the age of thirty, he was baptized and began to preach the gospel, like Joseph was thirty years old when he began to gather grain for his brothers (Genesis 41:46). Just as at that time the grain was prepared by God for the sons of Israel but given also to the Egyptians, so also the gospel was prepared for the saints but preached also to the unfaithful and wicked.” [Commentary on Matthew 78.]
Prayer: O God, who willed your Son to submit for our sake to the yoke of the Cross, so that you might drive from us the power of the enemy, grant us, your servants, to attain the grace of the resurrection. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: Jesus knew beforehand what would befall him. As Jesus ate the Passover meal with his twelve apostles he put them under trial and suspicion (one of you will betray me) to teach them to examine themselves rightly, to avoid thinking of themselves as being more strong than they were. We also must examine ourselves in the light of God’s truth and grace and ask him to strengthen us in faith, hope, and love that we may not fail him or forsake him when we are tempted. When you pray the “Lord’s Prayer”) the “Our Father”) do the words simply roll off your tongue without much thought? Or do you pray mindfully and with confidence in the words Jesus gave us to pray: Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:13)?