Thursday, July 23, 2009


Matt. 26:14-16, 20-25
Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.
When it was evening, Jesus took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another; “Surely not I, Lord?” He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born. “Judas who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”

(As Lent comes to a close, leading up to focusing on the Resurrection on Easter Sunday, this Thursday we focus on the scripture for the Last Supper. This article struck a chord with me.)

I am not like Judas. I would not do what Judas did. However bad I may be at times, I am never that bad.” From the days of our childhood we learned that Judas was so bad and what he did was so evil, that no one could be like him.

But that is not how the Bible sees him. When Jesus warned the apostles at the Last Supper that one of them would betray him, each of the twelve was afraid that he could be the one; one after another, they asked, “Surely not I, Lord?”

In telling the story, the gospels are letting us know that what Judas did, anyone of us could have done. Not only that; they are also letting us know that what Judas did, we also do, in small ways at least, and sometimes in bigger ways.

It seemed a good bargain at the time
“What will you give me?” They said, “Thirty pieces of silver.” Judas thought it was a good bargain at the time. When we cheat or defraud another person, or the government or an insurance company, we are handing over people for pieces of silver; we are also handing over our integrity, self respect and peace of mind; at the deepest level we are handing over Jesus. It seems a good bargain at the time.

When we set out to gossip about the faults of another and meet our gossiping friends, it is as if we are saying to them, “What will you give me, if I hand over this person’s good name to you?” What they give us is a sense of superiority over the one we criticise, and the satisfaction of impressing our friends.

We can get many things for handing Jesus over: security, comfort, popularity, privilege, power, a good standard of living, sexual satisfaction.

Sometimes we join with the wider community in handing Jesus over. Our neighbourhood hears of plans for a home for street kids in their area, or for a residence for homeless people. We are entitled to insist that such projects be properly planned and administered. But when we come together out of fear and block these projects with all our might, we are handing over the street kids and the homeless for our own security and wellbeing. As part of the wider and more blessed community in the neighbourhood we continue to spend and consume more than we need, while a billion people live in poverty. We hand Jesus over for our life of comfort with all its modern amenities. It seems a good bargain for the time being.

Jesus left Judas free
Judas hurt Jesus deeply. Judas was his close friend; he dipped his hand in the same dish with him as they ate. Our deliberate wrong doings, our sins, are never impersonal; they are always a betrayal of Jesus who loves us. Like Judas we often deny to ourselves as well as to others that we are doing anything wrong: “Surely, not I?” Jesus did everything he could to reach Judas at the Last Supper. He shared his food and his friendship; he gave him a solemn warning about the awful deed he had planned. But he respected his dignity, he did not name and shame him, and in the end he left him free. Jesus shows us the same love and respect.

Lord Jesus Christ,
hear our prayers as we call on you.
Forgive us as we confess our sins to you.
In your merciful love make good the harm we have done
and give us your pardon and peace.
You are Lord for ever and ever.

Source: Don Bosco’s Madonna Magazine, Mumbai India

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