Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Wednesday in Holy Week - more on the Betrayal

FIRST READING (Isaiah 50:4-9a)
Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, sons who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. Why will you still be smitten, that you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and bleeding wounds; they are not pressed out, or bound up, or softened with oil. Your country lies desolate, your cities are burned with fire; in your very presence aliens devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by aliens. And the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard, like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city. If the Lord of hosts had not left us a few survivors, we should have been like Sodom.

GOSPEL (Matthew 26:14-25)
O one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?”

And they paid him thirty pieces of silver.

And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain one, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at your house with my disciples.’” And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the passover.

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.”

“I looked for sympathy, but there was none; for comforters, and I found none.” (Psalms 69:21)

Many great spiritual writers have written about “the dark night of the soul.” This is a time when we experience a sense of complete abandonment and aloneness. We are slowly being surrounded by the darkness with no one there to help us or even walk with us. One religious sister told me of her experience with the dark night. She was in chapel praying and was overcome with a sense of God’s complete absence. There was nothing there to pray to. She was so scared she had to run from the chapel!

Of all the days in Jesus’ life, today is one of the darkest. The readings show us a Jesus Who is abandoned and betrayed. He is facing His most difficult moment, His death, and the people He most relied on are deserting Him. Isaiah prophesies that the Messiah will face His pain and tortures alone. The responsorial psalm echoes his soft cry for help: “Lord in Your great love, answer Me!”

We have all faced dark nights of the soul when everything seems lost and we are forsaken. In this darkness, we stand with Isaiah, and Sso many Saints down through the ages. Mostly, though, we stand with Jesus. And we trust the voice of God, as it did in the first moments of creation, to create a dawn in the darkness.
(Reflections On The Passion by Charles Hugo Doyle)

In 1943, Dorothy L. Sayers wrote a series of radio plays “Man Born to be King” on the life of Jesus. She had also written commentaries on the Gospels, not as a textual scholar so much as a playwright interested in human nature. She wanted to show how the story hung together with truly believable human characters. 

For Dorothy Sayers, Judas is an idealistic young man, genuinely seeking the coming of God’s Kingdom here on earth. He wants Jesus to establish a political kingdom and drive out the Romans (and, of course, give him an administrative role!). As the plays go on, Judas becomes increasingly disillusioned with Jesus' humility, and finally decides to force his hand by putting him into a situation where he will have to either overthrow the Romans or face humiliation and death. Of course, Jesus, does not do what Judas thinks he should do, but embraces the way of suffering and death in order to redeem all us from our sins.

Judas as understood by Dorothy Sayers is very believable, very human, and all too common. He's like us. Aren't we prone to betray Jesus in order to get our own way or forward our own advancement? Let us cry out with the publican, “God have mercy on me, a sinner,” (Luke 18:13).

O Gracious Father,
we humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic Church;
that thou wouldest be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace.
Where it is corrupt, purify it;
where it is in error, direct it;
where in any thing it is amiss, reform it.
Where it is right, establish it;
where it is in want, provide for it;
where it is divided, reunite it;
for the sake of him who died and rose again,
and ever liveth to make intercession for us,
Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord.
Archbishop William Laud (1573-1645)


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