Happy Holy Week!!
Some may know today, not only as “Holy Wednesday,” but also as “Spy Wednesday.” This is traditionally the day the Judas plotted with the Chief Priests of the Temple to have Jesus arrested.
Today’s reflection is Judas’ role in salvation.
Quote or Joke of the Day:
“I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.” – Mother Teresa
When he had said this, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant. One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side. So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, “Master, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.” So he dipped the morsel and (took it and) handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. (NAB Jn 13:21-26)
The phrase “one whom Jesus loved” is mentioned several times in the bible (I believe all of them are in John’s gospel.) I specifically remember hearing this expression with Jesus’ hanging on the cross of death. It is there that Jesus’ tells “this person” that he is now in charge of Mary’s welfare and safety: she is now his mother. Scholars pretty much unanimously agree that “this individual” is John.
I have a dualistic view of this phrase. I also believe it is John from a historical, and physically viewpoint. But, from a conceptual view, could Jesus have been referring to US as the “the one whom He loved?”
Put your name in the place of this phrase. In this reading, we are looking at others (and at ourselves) thinking, “Am I betraying Jesus?” After all, we are sinners, and with every sin we are betraying our Lord in heaven.
Now picture us at the foot of Jesus ‘cross, and being told, “(your name), this is your mother. Woman, this is your son.” Wow!! What a powerful statement. We relive Jesus’ last meal at every mass: and we must have Mary in our hearts, as our mother in heaven. Jesus has told us to take His mother as our own. I truly believe the phrase “the one whom He loved” was for this specific purpose. How awesome is that!!
Being the Passover Meal, the morsel mentioned by Jesus in this reading, per bible scholars, was probably a bitter herb, dipped in salt water. All present there were devout Jews, and followed the Jewish laws and regulations strictly. Jesus never changed any of these regulations: He added, or refined the Jewish laws and regulations as He saw needs, or human errors.
Now, let’s think about the “betrayer.” Where did Judas come from? Nothing is mentioned about how he was selected as an Apostle, or his ministry as an Apostle. All we know is that he held the “purse,” and was thus probably the one that handled any monetary matters. “Iscariot” indicates his place of birth. It is a Hebrew word meaning, “a man of Kerioth” (or Carioth), which is a city of Judah. His city of origin separates him from the other Apostles, who were all Galileans.
Why would Judas, after seeing all that Jesus did, want Him captured with an assured death sentence if caught? Was he upset that Jesus was passive, and not a “kingly warrior” that could take over in a militant way? Did he believe Jesus was acting too slowly? Did he want only to scare Jesus into performing actions that Judas wanted, but Jesus said no to doing?
We don’t know. All we do know is that Judas was an Apostle, a trusted disciple of Christ (at one time, anyhow); that he did give up Jesus to the Sanhedrin for some unknown reason; and that he felt a terrible sorrow, pain, and depression afterwards, for what he did to Jesus.
Judas’ actions were paramount in the passion story; starting the process of salvation for us all. God has a reason for everything. Jesus knew what Judas was going to do, and allowed it to happen. Yet, I still don’t know why it had to happen in this particular way? This situation is definitely on top of my list of discussion questions for when I am in front of Jesus!
“Jesus, I love you. I pray that you have forgiven me any time I have betrayed you. I never want to dishonor you, and with your help I will try to sin no more. Amen.”
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Catholic Saint of the Day: St. Benjamin
St. Benjamin, Martyr (Feast Day – March 31) The Christians in Persia had enjoyed twelve years of peace during the reign of Isdegerd, son of Sapor III, when in 420 it was disturbed by the indiscreet zeal of Abdas, a Christian Bishop who burned the Temple of Fire, the great sanctuary of the Persians. King Isdegerd threatened to destroy all the churches of the Christians unless the Bishop would rebuild it.
As Abdas refused to comply, the threat was executed; the churches were demolished, Abdas himself was put to death, and a general persecution began which lasted forty years. Isdegerd died in 421, but his son and successor, Varanes, carried on the persecution with great fury. The Christians were submitted to the most cruel tortures.
Among those who suffered was St. Benjamin, a Deacon, who had been imprisoned a year for his Faith. At the end of this period, an ambassador of the Emperor of Constantinople obtained his release on condition that he would never speak to any of the courtiers about religion.
St. Benjamin, however, declared it was his duty to preach Christ and that he could not be silent. Although he had been liberated on the agreement made with the ambassador and the Persian authorities, he would not acquiesce in it, and neglected no opportunity of preaching. He was again apprehended and brought before the king. The tyrant ordered that reeds should be thrust in between his nails and his flesh and into all the tenderest parts of his body and then withdrawn. After this torture had been repeated several times, a knotted stake was inserted into his bowels to rend and tear him. The martyr expired in the most terrible agony about the year 424.
(From http://www.catholic.org/saints/ website)