Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Betrayal of Jesus: Wednesday of Holy Week

Betrayal of Christ: Giovanni Barbieri
Today's gospel is a poignant reminder of our own human nature.  It is difficult to meditate upon the betrayal of Our Lord by Judas, and much easier to dismiss this portion of the gospel, as not relevant to one's own life.  Looking closer at the account of this gospel passage, we have much to learn about our own frailty.

When it was evening, he sat at table with the twelve disciples; and as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful, and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me, will betray me. The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Is it I, Master?” He said to him, “You have said so.” (Matt. 26: 21-25)

The more we address the failure on the part of the disciples of Our Lord to follow Him to His death, or address the betrayal of one of His chosen ones, we must look into our own lives.  Since the treachery of Judas, to be betrayed by a loved one has ever been the keenest suffering known to the human heart. Jesus suffered this disappointment, betrayal, and humiliation to gain for us the necessary strength to endure similar trails and to realize that God does not spare this to those who aspire to resemble His Son. And truly, in a small degree, this is one aspect of the passion that comes home to each one of us.

Origin tells us: "I believe that each of the disciples knew from the things Jesus had taught them that human nature is unstable and vulnerable to be turned toward sin and that in struggling “against the principalities and powers and rulers of this world of darkness” a man can be besieged and fall or be so weakened by the power of the enemy that he becomes evil."
Our human nature is frail and needs to be well guarded.  In the case of Judas, never was a man more forewarned about himself or his tendencies.  The obstinance of the sinner is a deep mystery.  God has given each of us the ability to choose the tremendous love He offers or to reject it.  And we know that it is only through His grace, that we can overcome those human weaknesses that cause us to choose evil.   Jesus endured this specific suffering to show us that our strength and consolation must be in Him.  There would have been forgiveness for Judas, even after his betrayal, if only he would have turned in humility and repentance to Christ.
Christ taught his apostles and disciples to confront evil with good.  A new law of charity, something strange in their day and unfortunately not all that strange in our own.   To do good to those who injure us, to pray for those who persecute us, to forgive insults, to smile at those who wound us, to be patient with the violent and overbearing.  This is the Divine law of love which truly frees us, and transforms us into the life of Christ.

As we begin the Sacred Triduum, let us ask for this gift of Divine charity that was won for us at such a horrifying price.  Let us look deep inside ourselves to see where we have failed and seek His love and forgiveness, then we can genuinely give it to others.

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