Is It I?

Mt 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.

Wednesday of Holy Week

The gospels offer little information about the disciples of Jesus. Peter is best known, because Jesus gave him a special role among them and also made his home in Peter’s house in Caphernaum.

Then, there’s Judas. Matthew’s gospel gives more information about him than  any other New Testament source and so it’s read on “Spy Wednesday,”  the day in Holy Week that recalls Judas’ offer to the rulers to hand Jesus over to them for thirty pieces of silver.

“Surely it is not I,” the disciples say to Jesus one after the other when he announces someone will betray him. And we say so too, as we watch Judas being pointed out. With Peter also we say we will not deny him. But the readings for these days caution us that there’s a communion of sinners as well as a communion of saints. We’re also sinful disciples.

We’re not unlike the disciples who once sat at table with Jesus.

We come as sinners to the Easter triduum, which begins the evening of Holy Thursday and ends on Easter Sunday. It’s a time of God’s great mercy, and we  hope for the same forgiveness and new life that Jesus gave his disciples who left him the night before he died.

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