Reading: Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me]to betray Him to you?” Matthew 26:14-15.
Good morning, happy Wednesday, and many blessings my dear family.
In today’s Gospel (Matthew 26:14-25) we experience Judas Iscariot negotiating with the chief priests. Judas doesn’t pretend to be anyone other than a traitor. He goes to the chief priests to make a deal with them. Judas bluntly tells them that he will hand Jesus over to them. However, he will do this only if they agree to pay him very well for betraying his teacher and his friend. The chief priests are delighted. After all, 30 pieces of silver is a small price to pay for having this man Jesus given to them. Jesus had been a thorn in the side of the Pharisees for a long time. Judas then began to look for the opportunity to hand Jesus over to them.
Matthew then abruptly shifts to a very different scene. As we know, it was Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Jesus’ disciples come and ask him where he wishes to celebrate the Passover meal. Jesus instructs them to go into Jerusalem and find an appropriate place where they could celebrate this sacred meal. Passover is the feast that celebrates Hebrew People’s delivery from bondage in Egypt. His disciples did as Jesus asked.
That evening in Jerusalem, Jesus and his apostles gathered around the table. While they were enjoying their meal, Jesus astounds them when he bluntly tells them: “One of you will betray me.” Imagine the horror and shock the apostles must have experienced. When Jesus uttered these words, the apostles must have been astounded. Did they look at one another in shock? Jesus was their friend and spiritual mentor. They loved Jesus. They had left their families and jobs to follow him. Why would they betray him?
Jesus then tells them that his betrayer is one who had dipped his hand into the dish with Jesus. Each one of them had eaten from the dish. They must have looked at one another, wondering who the betrayer was. Then each of his disciples asked Jesus: am I the one? Did they also look at each other and wonder who among them would be the one to betray Jesus? Finally, Judas asks: “Is it I, Lord?” Jesus simply responds: “You have said so.”
Have you ever been betrayed by a family member or a friend? All of us have experienced betrayal at various times in our lives and in differing degrees. Some betrayals are small and thus, they may be a bit easier to forgive. Other betrayals are life-changing. It may be that our lives take a completely different path after the betrayal. It also is likely that this experience may make it very difficult for us to trust any other person with our personal lives.
Jesus understands betrayal. He was handed over by one of his closest friends and followers. Yes, Jesus is God. However, Jesus also was human. He experienced the breadth of emotions you and I experience. Thus, Judas’ betrayal must have hurt him deeply. Judas was a man he had chosen, a man he had trusted. Judas was a man who betrayed him!
Have there been times in our lives when we also have betrayed Jesus? I assume so. Jesus will forgive us! Perhaps the more important question is: can we forgive ourselves? Jesus never stops loving us, no matter what we do! Jesus continues to invite us to come to him! Today will we accept his invitation?