Wednesday of Holy Week
The Betrayal by Judas
One of the worst things that can happen to us is to be betrayed by someone who is very close to us and to whom we have shared our time, our trust and our love. For example we claim that we are victims of betrayal like: betrayed by a husband, a wife, a family member, a friend, an officemate and so on and so forth. One priest said that betrayal is one of the worst crimes one could ever commit. It strikes us at our deepest self. We feel alienation and loneliness. However, an experience of betrayal may offer an opportunity to a deeper commitment to God and a trusting relationship with one another purified and motivated by love.
Today’s gospel passage tells us about Judas betraying Jesus. And through this passage we know that He has already decided to betray Him, (vv 14-16). Because of this, Jesus confronts His disciples by saying: “Amen I say to you one of you will betray me.” But Judas still affords to answer back to Jesus saying: “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” He is insincere and hypocritical. Does Jesus make a mistake in choosing Judas to be one of His apostles and intimate friends? What lead to this tragic decision of Judas?
Many Bible commentaries said that Judas had three possible reasons why he betrays Jesus. First, maybe due to avarice or he is motivated by greed. If you can still remember last Holy Monday’s gospel where Jesus visited Martha, Mary and Lazarus and where Mary, to show her gratitude to Jesus, washed His feet and poured His head with her expensive perfume? Judas protested against that act. He said that if this “wasted” perfume were sold, the money could be given to the poor. But in reality Judas had no concern for the poor.
Second is due to his bitter hatred of Christ. He is disappointed or disillusioned. Maybe he thinks that Jesus is too slow and not so aggressive to set up His Messianic kingdom. Or he wants to use Jesus for his own purposes and that is, to have wealth and honor. But for him Jesus cannot give this kind of wealth and honor because He would soon be crucified. Or Jesus’ behavior does not meet his expectations. He wants to change Jesus’ life and mission instead of him changing his own and follow Jesus. The same is true with us. We are tempted to use God for our own purposes. Instead that we must be changed by him, it is now God who must change.
Third is may be that Judas never intended Jesus to die. Actually, Judas came from a highly nationalistic family. And perhaps he joins Jesus in the hope of finding in Him a gifted national leader. His disillusionment is complete when Jesus refuses this role. But if Judas broadens and deepens this passion in order to be compatible with the Gospel, his nationalism transforms into something greater and he might become a great apostle of “the holy nation, the people set apart,” the new People of God. Just like the other disciples, he might become a “fisher of people.”
At the end let us 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. And let us ask ourselves: do we consider ourselves close friends of Christ? Or can we afford to betray Jesus as Judas was? It is because our friendship with Christ is something we must defend and cultivate. It should be immune from the cancer of pride and egoism.