Wednesday of Holy Week: March 19, 2008

In today’s Gospel reading for daily Mass [Matthew 26:14-25], we hear of Judas going to the priests to betray Jesus. Later, when it was evening, they sat down to eat the passover.

When it was evening, he sat at table with the twelve disciples; and as they were eating, [Jesus] said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful, and began to say to him one after another. “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me, will betray me. The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed. It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Is it I, Master?” He said to him, “You have said so.” [Matthew 26: 20-25]

Jesus goes about His last hours, knowing what’s going to happen and doesn’t use His powers to stop it. More surprisingly, He speaks not a word to Judas to draw him back from the evil path he has chosen.

We can understand Jesus not saving Himself in terms given us by St. Paul:

And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.

Jesus didn’t deviate from His path because He was perfect in obedience to the Father.

At first it’s harder to understand His acceptance of the treachery by Judas and the consequences to Judas, a man He’d loved and brought into His inner circle. All Jesus says is, “You have said so,” the same response He made to the question of Pontius Pilate, “Are you the King of the Jews?” [Matthew 27:11]

He gave this response to Judas’ question where the answer proved to be, “Yes,” and also to Pilate’s question where the answer proved to be, “No,” once the followers of Christ knew beyond the shadow of doubt that their Master had made no claims to such forms of power though all power in Creation is His. The phrase, “You have said so,” isn’t an endorsement of the truth of a statement.

“You have said so.” The die is cast in both cases. For months, if not years, Judas has been nurturing an attitude which blossomed into outright treachery. For years, Pilate has been nurturing his skepticism while practicing administration and politics in a brutal and corrupt manner. Each of those men had become what they had shaped themselves to be.

We see evidence that God isn’t going to violate the measure of freedom He has awarded us. He is ever willing to help us in our weakness so long as we turn to Him — however fitfully or cowardly, but He will let us train our eyes and our minds so that we don’t recognize Him when He stands in front of us. Conversion is always possible, but Judas and Pilate had each reached a state where conversion would have been very painful at the very least and each seems to have wavered but not had the courage to turn towards God.

This is a fearful possibility to face and we should all worry about it. There are ways for a man who is seemingly a devout Christian to turn his eyes and mind from God as surely as Pilate did. One way is to transform our God-centered thoughts into thoughts centered upon an idol we prefer, perhaps one who will shower fire down upon the sinners or perhaps an idol who will suddenly show a willingness to eliminate poverty and disease and famine and war.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Bible meditations, Christian spirituality, Christianity, Lenten meditations

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