Wednesday of Holy Week
Isaiah 50:4-9a; Matthew 26:14-25
Sunday we recalled Christ’s triumphal entry into the holy city of Jerusalem. More than the sweet sounds of the adoring crowd, Jesus seemed intent on the honor of his Father and the Temple built to the glory of His name. As we continue our journey to the Paschal Feast, we should focus our thoughts on higher things. The higher things that were the reason for Christ’s coming into the world: Truth, the truth that comforts the broken, contrite heart; truth that gives rest to those weary of sin and overburdened. As the Beloved Son, Jesus makes intercession to the Father on behalf of all who have laid their burdens down before Him.
The tragedy of today’s gospel reading is that one with whom Jesus offered the morsel of bread as a sign of friendship and love became a traitor. One of the worst things that can happen to an individual is to be betrayed by someone who is very close to him and with whom he had shared time, trust and love. The Psalmist put it most clearly: “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, my companion, my close friend” (Ps. 55:12-13). What Judas did that day is still being done today. For a price, he handed Jesus over to the Temple authorities. Similarly, for reasons of personal gain or advancement, we tend hand people over, the current phrase is ‘throw them under the bus’.
Often, we share meals with people we know. At times we feign intimacy and even deceive ourselves. As He did with the disciples, Jesus now does with us. He opens a window of opportunity for us to examine our hearts. Looking each of us in the eye, Jesus says: “One of you is about to betray me by thought or by word, by intentional acts or by some omission” (Cf. Mat. 26:21). On hearing this disquieting announcement, we make the same knee-jerk response that the disciples gave: “You can’t be talking about me, Lord” (Cf. Mat. 26:22). Squirming under the gaze of love, we hear voice from the past: “You are the man!” (2 Sam. 12:7). If we respond to the graces that the Lord gives us, we can reply with the words of the Psalmist: “I acknowledge my crimes; and my sins is always before me” (Ps. 51:3).
It is distressing, even heart-rending, to admit that we who desire to live in communion with the Lord are capable of betraying him. How often have we broken bread with the Lord and then proceeded to walk away from the Light? Again, we can quote the words of the Psalmist: “In my distress I cried out to the Lord, and He answered me” (Ps. 120:1). And Jesus’ answer: “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail you. And when you have repented and returned to me, strengthen your brothers” (Lk. 22:32). In the midst of life’s challenges and hardships, it is important to remember that God’s gaze is always upon us. As we enter into the Sacred Triduum, let us keep in mind Christ’s right to meet each of us in the key moment of our soul’s life, the moment of conversion and forgiveness. Will we walk into the darkness and cling to our sins or will we allow ourselves to be changed by God’s love and walk in the Light of Life?