Holy Wednesday: hate, conspiracy, betrayal
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.Even as Jesus was enlightening the masses with a little sermon on the Mount of Olives, and healing the odd leper in Bethany, Judas was conspiring with the Sanhedrin to betray him for 30 pieces of silver. That's what we remember on Holy Wednesday. Funny, isn't it, that the one who betrayed the Lord should get his own day of commemoration.
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
Behold, I have told you before (Mt 24:14-25).
Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,Perhaps Jesus disappointed; perhaps he failed to meet Judas's messianic expectations; perhaps Judas just couldn't resist the money. Perhaps, even, he had no choice: Jesus had to be betrayed for prophecy to be fulfilled, and Judas was the vessel who was given over to Satan ("Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot [Lk 22:3]). His heart was the first to hate the Son of God, and when that hate corrodes the soul, you wish ill, plot downfall, and rejoice in comeuppance.
And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.
And from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him (Mt 26:14-16).
It's easy for us to wonder and judge with incredulity. Just how can you spend so much time in a man’s company and not get the measure of his character? How could Judas not know? How could he not believe? Had he not seen with his own eyes? How could he not trust?
The reason is that he did not love, or that he loved himself, his ambition and money far more. Judas is one of those friends who aren’t really friends: you know the sort – the superficial hangers-on; those who like to be seen with you or use you for their own ends; those who boast and name-drop, whose every conversation becomes a tedious discourse about them. The world of politics is full of such people. So is the Church. They profess eternal friendship and mouth their undying loyalty while they plot to stab you in the back. As The Lady observed, it is "treachery with a smile".
As long as Judas lined his pockets, he never really paused to consider the inevitable consequences for Jesus. That would have been an act of love, yet his proud and self-righteous heart was consumed with hate, selfishness and greed. And that's when Satan enters in.
Friends are God’s gift of love: they are there to nurture and support, and also to correct and rebuke. On this Holy Wednesday, let us thank God for them, and reflect on forgiving those who have persecuted or betrayed us – even if they have caused us to weep a river of heartache and sorrow.