Reflections

Wednesday of Holy Week, March 31, 2021

“ONE OF YOU WILL BETRAY ME”
Introduction
Today we hear the bad news of the betrayal of Judas, together with the sad yet joyous good news of Jesus’ Passover meal with his disciples. “My time is near. I will keep the Passover with my disciples.” Jesus will eat the Passover meal surrounded by those who have followed him. The traitor leaves them to betray Jesus. But Jesus, the Servant of God and people, faces his death with the fullest trust in God. Jesus will celebrate this Passover in a new way making it the Eucharist. This is a testament he leaves with his disciples. It is the deepest way he is going to stay among his disciples then and now.
 
Opening Prayer
God our Father,
when the hour of your Son Jesus had come
to accept suffering and death
out of love of you
and his saving love for us,
he did not refuse that suffering and deep pain.
In the hour of trial
that we may have to pass through,
do not let us become rebellious
but keep us trusting in you,
for you save us
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
 
1 Reading: Isaiah 50:4-9A
The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, That I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear; And I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame. He is near who upholds my right; if anyone wishes to oppose me, let us appear together. Who disputes my right? Let him confront me. See, the Lord GOD is my help; who will prove me wrong?
 
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 69:8-10, 21-22, 31 AND 33-34
R. (14c) Lord, in your great love, answer me.
 
For your sake I bear insult,
and shame covers my face.
I have become an outcast to my brothers,
a stranger to my mother’s sons,
because zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me. R.
 
Insult has broken my heart, and I am weak,
I looked for sympathy, but there was none;
for consolers, not one could I find.
Rather they put gall in my food,
and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. R.
 
I will praise the name of God in song,
and I will glorify him with thanksgiving:
“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.” R.
 
Gospel Acclamation
Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
Hail to your, our King;
you alone are compassionate with our errors.
Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!
 
Gospel: Matthew 26:14-25
One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over. On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The teacher says, My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.'” The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover. When it was evening, he reclined at table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, “Surely it is not I, Lord?” He said in reply, “He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me. The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” He answered, “You have said so.”
 
Commentary
Often termed “Spy Wednesday” because of the biblical account of Judas’s betrayal, the Gospel narrative is accompanied by the third song of the servant. As he continues his mission, the servant meets with greater trials, this time, in terms of physical abuse. While never backing away from his call, the servant recounts beatings, buffeting, and spitting. All of this notwithstanding, he continues resolutely on his path, always confident of Yahweh’s continued assistance.
In the Matthean Gospel narrative, Judas bargains with the Jewish leaders and receives the notorious thirty pieces of silver, the price given to the rejected shepherd in Zechariah. The treachery of Judas is compounded by the fact that he later sits with Jesus at the final supper. An avowed enemy did not share food with his opponent, since the sacred character of meal sharing and its intended good will would be reduced to mockery. In making his disclaimer of guilt, Judas incriminates himself.
The readings today issue a clarion call for honesty, candour, and transparency. This is the authentic Christian response, even in matters of lesser moment. We are subject to the temptation to bend the truth at times in our own favour. The result is that our responses do not always reflect the facts. Sometimes the truth is painful, but we are asked to bear it with courage.
It is the work of the judiciary to ferret out the truth from investigations, in today’s sports, the referee—not always an easy task. As Christians we are called to settle out of court. To seek the truth is to seek the good, and it is the truth that sets us free. Any shade of hypocrisy is to be avoided. Christ is the luminous example of eternal truth, and it is he we wish to emulate.
 
Intercessions
Let us join our prayers to those of the Lord Jesus, as we say: Lord, hear your people.
• For all those whose love has been betrayed or rejected, we pray:
• For the people who are facing death, that they may trustingly put themselves into the Lord’s hands, we pray:
• For all who suffer and face difficult decisions, that God may be their strength and inspiration, we pray:
• For all Christians, that they may seek the presence of the Lord in the Eucharist, we pray:
Lord, stay with us. We love you, now and for ever.
 
Prayer over the Gifts
Praise be to you, eternal God,
for you invite us to the table of your Son.
Let us, Jesus’ disciples today,
eat his bread of love and strength
and drink his wine of gladness,
that our trust in you may never fade
and that we love one another
in good days and in times of pain.
We ask you through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
 
Prayer after Communion
Our Saving God,
a new world could be born
when Jesus laid down his life for us
and left us the sign that you have made with us
a new and everlasting covenant.
Thank you for letting us celebrate
in memory of him
that sacrifice which brought us life
and unites us in him.
All thanks and praise to you
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen!
 
Blessing
It is good to be with the Lord this Holy Week. It gives us the opportunity to reflect on the immense love with which God loves us. How do we answer his total love? How much do we echo and mirror it to the people around us? Especially you, parents, how much do you make your children feel God’s love in you? May almighty God bless you all, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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