Readings for Wednesday April 20, 2011
Wednesday of Holy Week
First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-9
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 69
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. 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.” (Matt. 26:14-16, 20-25)
When someone asks the question, which of the disciples betrayed Jesus, the majority of people know that it was Judas Iscariot. And we have lots of facts, such as how much silver he accepted, dipping his hands in the dish with Jesus, even betraying Jesus with a kiss. But despite all of these facts, there is one thing that we do not know ... why did he do it? Why did he betray Jesus, why did he turn him over to the chief priests? Why did he turn away from God, when he was so close? Was it pride or envy? Did he become greedy? While we do not know the exact reason why, we do know for sure that something caused his heart to become hardened, and from there he turned away from Jesus; and in doing so, he turned away from his life.
While we certainly should not strive to model our lives after Judas, there is something important that we can learn from him. We are either with Jesus or we are against Him; and at any time we can find ourselves on either side. I am sure that when Judas started out with Jesus he did not intend to betray him, and in fact he probably was on fire for a little while. But then something seized him and caused him to turn away. We must always be careful with sin and becoming too worldly, because it is these things that cause us to turn away from God. We must always be fighting and striving to serve the Lord with all of our heart. It is only by losing our self in Him that we will find our life.
Saint Peter gives us great advice in his first letter: "Be Sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings." (1 Pt. 5:8-9) Judas did not heed this warning, but we should.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for the gift of this day. Lord, thank you for all that you have blessed us with. Thank you for all of your gifts, help us to always be good stewards of all the things that you give us. Lord, even though you do not need us, you want us to share in your great love. Help us to always be faithful and loyal to you until our time on earth is through. Lord, we pray for all those who have turned away from you, may they come back to your love and mercy. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.