Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.
On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.
When it was evening, he 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.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Like most people, I hate spoilers. I can’t stand it when someone ruins a book, a movie, or a show by telling me what’s going to happen. Why would anyone do something so cruel?!?! I think I feel this way, in part, because I enjoy the suspense and excitement of figuring out what’s to come. But the other reason I hate knowing is because then your perception of the characters and their actions changes greatly.
Well, Jesus gave us one heck of a spoiler in today’s gospel when he drops this bombshell: “One of you will betray me.” For many of us, the Judas story is one we know well. It’s not a surprise like it was for them at the time. A result of knowing the outcome of this story is that I have developed a very negative view of who Judas was. For me, Judas has always been instantly associated with betrayal. But the thing that I’m so quick to forget is that Judas was Jesus’s friend, one of his closest friends, who fell victim to human greed.
Just like Judas, we are God’s friends, his closest friends, who often make some horrible decisions. We all get sucked into temptation. We all betray Jesus. It’s easy to think that we would never do what Judas did, but we have to be honest with ourselves to see all the little ways that we already betray Jesus…every day. That’s partially what Lent is all about: recognizing our faults and shortcomings. But that’s only half of it. The response to those mistakes is so important.
Sometimes knowing the ending can be good thing, because unlike Judas, we can see what’s to come. Spoiler alert: Jesus lives. And in the next couple of days, during the Holy Triduum, we see that beauty of what that means. We have a God who aches with us, who cries with us, who wants to be alongside us as we struggle. He literally felt our pain with us in Jesus’s death. So if we know the ending, we must never forget what that means: infinite love and mercy.
We use Lent as a time to look at our sins, not out of shame but in order to grow.
So as we prepare for Easter, let us spend the final days of Lent continuing to reflect on the ways in which we’re closer to Judas than we think through the ways we betray Jesus. But let’s do so with a focus on knowing that we are forgiven and God’s love is ready for us. I pray that this time, a spoiler allows you to experience an even richer story, one of greater love.
–Mr. Stephen Deves, ‘11 teaches math and coaches racquetball at St. Louis U. High.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
—traditional “Serenity Prayer”
Please share the Good Word with your friends!