Lenten Journey: Day 43 (Wednesday, April 12)

LENTEN JOURNEY:  DAY 43 (WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12)

Scripture:  Matthew 26:14-25

Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I 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.”

 

As our Lenten Journey only has a few days to go we should watch carefully these coming three days not just as spectators but as participants.  Holy week is an invitation to walk closely with Jesus; we fix our eyes on him and accompany him in his suffering and we let him look closely at us and see us as we really are.  We do not have to present a brave face to him, but we can tell him about where we have been disappointed, let down and perhaps even betrayed.  We can avoid getting stuck and left behind in our own misfortunes by seeing as he sees, and by learning from his heart. 

In our passage today is Judas motivated by anger and disappointment?  Did he have a different vision of the coming Messiah than Jesus?  Did he resent that Jesus saw through him when he protested at the waste of Mary’s costly perfume at the feast?  One thing is clear; he refused to accept Jesus as he was.  Like us, he did not see that it is we, not God who must change. 

Look at Judas and watch him fearfully betraying Jesus.  And then look at Jesus as his heart goes out to the weakness of the disciples.  In all sorts of weakness in our lives, the love of God is triumphant.  As he walks with us—let him be the strength in your weakness and sinfulness. 

If we look closely at Judas his real sin was not his betrayal of Jesus, but it was rather his rejection of him and what Jesus represented, and the real love and forgiveness that he has for his people.  Judas refused to believe in the possibility of forgiveness, and we should remember not to imitate him no matter what we have done wrong we can turn to Jesus for forgiveness and healing. 

The disciples had come on a long journey to bring them to this point and now the depth of their discipleship would be challenged.  We too, have been on a journey and we have traveled to arrive with Jesus at our sides.  Remember that we receive strength as Jesus shares himself with us and may we draw upon that strength to stand in our own difficult moments too. 

Think of the characters in the gospel story and see where you can recognize yourself among them when some profess their faith; some do as they are asked, some do simply what others do, and some disappear in the moment of crisis.  We can be like Judas and abandon him in despair, or be like Peter and come back to him with tears of repentance. 

In his self offering on the Cross, Jesus brings all the sin of the world deep within the love of god, and wipes it away.  Accepting the Cross, entering into fellowship with Christ, means entering the realm of transformation.” – Joseph Ratzinger (Jesus of Nazareth)

Jesus invites each of us to recognize the truth of our won discipleship and you are invited to follow willingly, freely and forgiven. 

Prayer—My Lord my God you see my heart, and my desires are not hidden from you.  I am encouraged and strengthened by your goodness to me today.  I want to be yours, and yours alone.  O my God, my Savior, my Sanctifier, hear me, help me, and show mercy to me for Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen.
 

Enjoy the journey.