Tag Archives: Judas

Feast of St. Matthias

Thomas

May 14th is the Feast of St.Matthias, chosen by lot to take the place of Judas. He joins the eleven apostles so that the twelve tribes of Israel will be represented when the Holy Spirit comes. Tradition says Matthias brought the gospel to Ethiopia. The Pentecost narrative follows Matthias’ selection in Luke’s account.

The qualifications for a new apostle seem simple enough. Peter says it should be someone “who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us. He joins us as a witness to his resurrection.”

Two have those qualifications. Joseph called Barsabbas and Matthias.

Then, they pray:
“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all,
show which one of these two you have chosen.”
Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias,
and he was counted with the Eleven Apostles.” (Acts 1,15-17, 20-25)

Yet, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. For Matthias to be a witness to Jesus it wasn’t enough to get all the details right about what Jesus did or said, as a reporter or witness at a trial might do it.

In John’s gospel read for Matthias’ feast, Jesus describes a disciple as one who abides in him, who remains in him– a friend committed to him. So, a disciple cannot be just an on-looker, but one who enters the mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection. He’s one who weathers doubts and uncertainties as the disciples listening to Jesus’ Farewell Discourse did. He’s like Thomas who sees the wounds in the Lord’s hands and side and learns to trust and believe through them.

Rembrandt’s wonderful portrayal of Jesus showing his wounds to Thomas (above) presents Thomas, not as a lonely skeptic, but representing all the disciples. All the disciples must come before Jesus’ wounds.

Pope Francis in a homily  spoke of the importance of the wounds of Christ for a disciple of Jesus. We’re on an exodus beyond ourselves, he said, and there are two ways open for us. “one to the wounds of Jesus, the other to the wounds of our brothers and sisters.”

“If we are not able to move out of ourselves and toward our brothers and sisters in need, to the sick, the ignorant, the poor, the exploited – if we are not able to accomplish this exodus from ourselves, and towards those wounds, we shall never learn that freedom, which carries us through that other exodus from ourselves, and toward the wounds of Jesus.”

The wounds of Christ and the wounds of our brothers and sisters– we learn from both to see victory of death and to trust in the passion of Jesus.

Like Matthias, we’re called to be witnesses..

A Meal in Bethany

IMG_0065
On the Monday of Holy Week John’s gospel (John 12,1-11) calls us to a meal honoring Jesus in Bethany following the resurrection of Lazarus. It’s the last meal mentioned in the gospels before the Passover supper. The gift of life that Jesus gives his friend leads to a sentence of death.

Faithful Martha serves the meal; Lazarus newly alive, is at the table. But the one drawing most of our attention is Mary, their sister who, sensing what’s coming, kneels before Jesus to anoint his feet with precious oil and dry them with her hair. “And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.”

The precious oil is an effusive sign of her love and gratitude; it also anoints Jesus for his burial. Only in passing does the gospel mention that evil is in play here. Judas, “the one who would betray him,” complains that the anointing is a waste, but his voice is silenced. Believers are honoring the one they love.

How fitting that Holy Week begins with this gospel when, like Mary, we kneel and pour out the precious oil of our love upon him who pours out his precious life for us.

Wednesday of Holy Week

Lent 1
Readings

The gospels tell us little about the twelve disciples of Jesus. Peter is the best known;  Jesus gave him a special role and also lived in his house in Capernaum.

Then, there’s Judas. Matthew’s gospel has more information about him than any other New Testament source and so we read his gospel  on “Spy Wednesday,”  the day in Holy Week recalling  Judas’ offer  to hand Jesus over for thirty pieces of silver.(Matthew 26,14-25)

“Surely it is not I?” the disciples say one after the other when Jesus 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 are never far from the disciples who once sat at table with Jesus. We’re also sinful. We come as sinners to the Easter triduum, which begins Holy Thursday evening ends on Easter Sunday. We  hope for the mercy Jesus gave to those who left him the night before he died.

“We who wish to find the All, who is God, must cast ourselves into nothingness. God is “I AM; we are they who are not, for dig as deeply as we can, we will find nothing, nothing. And we who are sinners are worse than nothing.
“God, out of nothing created the visible and invisible world. The infinite Good, by drawing good from evil through justifying sinners, performs a greater work of omnipotence than if he were to create a thousand worlds more vast and beautiful than this one. For in justifying sinners, he draws them from sin, an abyss darker and deeper than nothingness itself.” (St. Paul of the Cross, Letter 248 )

O God, who willed your Son to submit for our sake

to the yoke of the Cross,

so that you might drive from us the power of the enemy,

grant us, your servants, to attain the grace of the resurrection.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. Amen.

Tuesday of Holy Week

Lent 1
Readings
The gospels from Monday to Thursday in Holy Week take us away from the crowded temple area in Jerusalem where Jesus spoke before many of his avowed enemies. These days he eats at table with “his own.” In Bethany six days before Passover he eats with Martha , Mary and Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead. Mary anointed his feet with precious oil in a beautiful outpouring of her love.

The gospels for Tuesday and Wednesday bring us to the table in Jerusalem where he eats with the twelve who followed him. Love is poured out here too, but these gospels describe a love with great cost. “I tell you solemnly, one of you will betray me,” Jesus says to them. Friends that followed him abandon him. Judas dips his hand into the dish with him and then goes out into the night. Peter will deny him three times; the others flee. Jesus must face suffering and death alone.

Are we unlike them?

Does a troubled Jesus face us too, “his own,” to whom he gave new life in the waters of baptism and Bread at his table. Will we not betray or deny? Are we sure we will not go away? The gospels are not just about what’s past; they’re also about now.

We think the saints exaggerate when they call themselves great sinners, but they know the truth. That’s the way St. Paul of the Cross described himself in his account of his forty day retreat as a young man:

“I rejoiced that our great God should wish to use so great a sinner, and on the other hand, I knew not where to cast myself, knowing myself so wretched. Enough! I know I shall tell my beloved Jesus that all creatures shall sing of his mercies.” (Letter 2)

Almighty ever-living God,

grant us so to celebrate the mysteries of the Lord’s Passion

that we may merit to receive your pardon.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son.

 

Betrayal

John 13, 21-38

The Gospels for Monday to Thursday in Holy Week take us away from the crowded temple area in Jerusalem where Jesus spoke to the crowds and his avowed enemies and bring us into homes where “his own” join him to eat a meal.

In Bethany six days before Passover he eats with those he loved: Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead. In Jerusalem on the night before he dies he eats with the twelve who followed him. During the meal in Bethany, Mary anoints his feet with precious oil in a beautiful outpouring of her love.

But the Gospels for Tuesday and Wednesday point not to love but betrayal. Friends that followed him abandon him. Judas betrays him for thirty pieces of silver and goes out into the night; Peter will deny him three times; the others flee. Jesus must face suffering and death alone. (Judas’ Betrayal, J.Tissot)

Are we unlike them? Does a troubled Jesus face us too, “his own,” to whom he gave new life in the waters of baptism and Bread at his table. Will we not betray or deny? Are we sure we will not go away? The Gospels are not just about long ago; they’re also about now.

Spy Wednesday

Matthew 26,14-25

Gospels offer little information about the twelve disciples of Jesus. Peter is best known among them, since Jesus gave him a special role and also lived in his house in Capernaum. 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 for thirty pieces of silver.

“Surely it is not I?” the disciples say one after the other when Jesus 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 are never far from 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. God shows great mercy; we hope for the forgiveness and new life that Jesus gave his disciples who left him the night before he died.

Following Jesus Christ: Monday Night– Oct 3

Following Jesus Christ in St. Matthew’s Gospel into the days of his death and  resurrection, we hope to learn from him. In a previous post,  we considered lessons Jesus taught as he began his last days.

He recognized that God was with him, even as he faced death.  “Thy will be done,” Jesus taught his disciples to pray in Galilee. “Thy will be done,” Jesus cried trembling as he faced death before his arrest that dark night in Jerusalem. God’s with you, he says to us, even in life’s darkest moments.

It’s a lesson we hope to learn. We welcome God’s will when life’s good, but find it hard to accept when times are bad. “My thoughts are above your thoughts, and my ways above your ways,” God says. God’s plans are often hidden, like seed in the ground or treasure in a field. We find God’s plan especially hard to understand in suffering and death.

And so, many today deny a plan of God exists in our world. If God exists–and some would say he really doesn’t– God is uninvolved in our world in any way. Some say there are no plans at work in our world at all; life is random, without rhyme or reason; everything just happens.

Or some say life is what I want it to be. I can make it happen, and there’s no point in looking for God’s will. I decide.

We believe God has a plan and his plan is for our good. God’s wills our good, even though it may sometimes be hard to see.

“Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Jesus before Caiaphas

After his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus is taken to “Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and elders were assembled,”  Matthew’s Gospel continues. What shall we learn here?

Caiaphas’ residence would be somewhere in Jerusalem’s Upper City where influential Jews lived. It was an area close by the Temple and Herod’s Palace, where Pontius Pilate, the Roman Governor also resided when he was in the city. Jesus would be taken to that well-to-do area of the city.

Recently, archeologists have excavated some of the homes of Jewish officials in the Upper City and they’ve found  Roman style villas with courtyards and elegant furnishings. They would be among the red-roofed buildings seen in the model below of Jerusalem at the Israel Museum.

Jesus would be judged and sentenced to death, scourged and crowned with thorns in the Upper City. His followers would be few there,  unlike Bethany where we said previously  he had strong support. 

Matthew presents Jesus’ appearance before the Jesus leaders in dramatic form. Caiaphas probes his identity thoroughly in what is more of a cross examination than a court trial.  At the same time Jesus is being questioned, Peter the Apostles is also  questioned.  Earlier in Matthew’s Gospel, Peter strongly professed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God, now just as strongly he denies he ever knew him.

The gospel invites us into this story to ask what we say.  For Caiaphas Jesus is a trouble-maker or maybe a religious fanatic. He and his friends are worried that Jesus might start a revolution endangering all  they held dear.

Who do we say Jesus is? If he’s only a healer, a teacher, a social revolutionary with delusions of grandeur, then he’s only  another innocent person victimized by powerful enemies. Is he only another human being?

But if he’s God’s Son, the face of God to us, then he’s tremendously important to us and to our world.  “Who is he?” “Who is this who suffers and experiences such humbling?” “Why?”  are new questions before us.  God is here, and attention must be paid. Jesus, God in human form, not distant or untouched by human circumstances, suffers and dies and lives and loves as we do.

“Tell us under oath whether you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”   Caiaphas asks Jesus.

“You have said it,”  Jesus answers.

Jesus who prayed in fear in the garden, who feels abandoned and alone, whose sweat falls to ground as the dark engulfs him is the face of God before us. Jesus who gave himself to his disciples in bread and wine, who knelt before them in the Supper Room and washed their feet is the face of God. He comes humbly before us that we might meet him unafraid.

With Peter, we say “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” With Thomas, we say, “My Lord and my God.”

Notice how Matthew’s gospel strongly asserts the reality of Jesus’ human experience  He really suffers, he really fears, he really knows our sorrows and pains, for he has borne them himself.   He does not “seem” to be human, he is human.

“Why did be come among us?” we ask. Because God who lives in light inaccessible, wishes to draw us into his light. Jesus who shares our human experience leads us into that light.

We remember the Passion of Jesus to grow in love of him. His Passion is a book to be read over and over,  always wise, always new, always true. It leads us to peace. From its pages we know a loving God wants to be near us.

St. Paul of the Cross, the founder of my community, called the Passion of Jesus the door into the presence of God. It invites us to approach God bravely, to enter God’s presence with confidence and then rest in the presence of the God who loves you.

Judas

As the Jewish leaders send Jesus off to Pontius Pilate, Matthew recalls the tragic end of Judas, who betrayed Jesus. “I have sinned in betraying  innocent blood,” the disciple says as he flings the 30 pieces of silver into the temple. What lesson can be draw from this event?

“His second tragedy,” Pope Benedict says of Judas,”is that he can no longer  believe in forgiveness. His remorse turns into despair. Now he see only himself and his darkness; he no longer sees the light of Jesus, which can illumine and overcome the darkness. He shows the wrong type of remorse; the type unable to hope, that see only its own darkness.” (Jesus of Nazareth, p 68)

Judas would not believe the story of the Prodigal Son. Such sadness hangs over the fate of Judas. We learn from the tragedy of Judas to believe in God’s forgiveness, even for the greatest sinner.

When you read Matthew’s  account of the Passion  notice the gradual silence of Jesus. As the hours go by, his words become fewer and fewer. He works no obvious wonders, no obvious cures. His own power seems to slip away leaving him more and more helpless, and his powerful enemies more in control.

In the garden, he prays a short troubled prayer, over and over: “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me, yet not my will, but your will be done.”

He looks for the comfort of friends but finds none. They fall asleep and seem to not notice.  “Pray that you don’t enter temptation. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak,” Jesus tells them.

His words are few before Caiaphas. Quick to answer false charges before, he says nothing to the false witnesses bringing charges against him.  Only when Caiaphas directly asks if he is the Messiah, the Son of God,  does Jesus answer: “ You have said so. I tell you from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Similarly, Jesus is mostly silent before Pilate. “Are you the king of the Jews?” Pilate asks him. “You say so,” Jesus answers. Then, he says no more.

He’s silent when the crowd calls for Barrabas; he has no words but cries of pain when the soldiers scourge him. He makes no response to their mockery as they lead him away to be crucified.

The only words he says towards the end in Matthew’s gospel–Mark’s Gospel also reports these words–  are the final words from psalm 22, which the evangelists quote in Aramaic, as well as Greek:  “My God, my God why have you forsaken me.?”

“It is not ordinary cry of abandonment. Jesus is praying the great psalm of suffering Israel, and so he is taking upon himself all the tribulation, not just of Israel, but of all those in this world who suffer from God’s concealment. He brings the world’s anguished cry at God’s absence before the heart of God himself. He identifies himself with suffering Israel, with all who suffer under “God’s darkness”; he takes their cry, their anguish, all their helplessness on himself–and in so doing he transforms it.” (Jesus of Nazareth, )

In the Passion of Jesus we find God as a companion, as “one like us in all things but sin.”

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

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.

Betrayal

Jn 13:21-33, 36-38
Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.
One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved,
was reclining at Jesus’ side.
So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant.
He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him,
“Master, who is it?”
Jesus answered,
“It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.”
So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas,
son of Simon the Iscariot.
After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him.
So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”
Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him.
Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him,
“Buy what we need for the feast,”
or to give something to the poor.
So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.

When he had left, Jesus said,
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself,
and he will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
You will look for me, and as I told the Jews,
‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.”

Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?”
Jesus answered him,
“Where I am going, you cannot follow me now,
though you will follow later.”
Peter said to him,
“Master, why can I not follow you now?
I will lay down my life for you.”
Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me?
Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow
before you deny me three times.”

Tuesday, Holy Week

The gospels from Monday to Thursday in Holy Week take us away from the crowded temple area in Jerusalem where Jesus spoke to the crowds and his avowed enemies and bring us into homes where “his own” join him to eat a meal. In Bethany six days before Passover he eats with those he loved: Martha, Mary and Lazarus, whom he raised from the dead. In Jerusalem on the night before he dies he eats with the twelve who followed him.

During the meal in Bethany, Mary anoints his feet with precious oil in a beautiful outpouring of her love. But the gospels for Tuesday and Wednesday point out, not love, but betrayal. Friends that followed him abandon him. Judas betrays him for thirty pieces of silver and walks into the night; Peter will deny him three times; the others flee. Jesus must face suffering and death alone.

Are we unlike them?

Does a troubled Jesus face us too, “his own,” to whom he gave new life in the waters of baptism and Bread at his table. Will we not betray or deny?  Will we not go away?

Surely the gospels are not just about long ago; they’re also about now.

Love Poured Out

Jn 12:1-11
Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany,
where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served,
while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him.
Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil
made from genuine aromatic nard
and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair;
the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples,
and the one who would betray him, said,
“Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages
and given to the poor?”
He said this not because he cared about the poor
but because he was a thief and held the money bag
and used to steal the contributions.
So Jesus said, “Leave her alone.
Let her keep this for the day of my burial.
You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came,
not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus,
whom he had raised from the dead.
And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too,
because many of the Jews were turning away
and believing in Jesus because of him.

Monday, Holy Week

A gift of life leads to a sentence of death. We’re called to a meal in Bethany by these verses of John’s gospel. It follows the resurrection of Lazarus and is given to honor Jesus by his friends. It will be the last meal the gospel records before the Passover supper he will eat with his disciples.

Faithful Martha serves it; Lazarus newly alive, is at the table. But the one who draws our attention most is Mary, their sister. Sensing what is to come, she kneels before Jesus to anoint his feet with precious oil and dry them with her hair. “And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.”

The precious oil that fills the house is an effusive sign of her love and gratitude; it also signifies an anointing of Jesus for his burial.

Only in passing does the gospel mention the evil in play that will bring Jesus to his death. Judas, one of his own disciples, “the one who would betray him” complains that the anointing is a waste, but his voice is silenced. This is a time for believers to pay tribute to the one they love.

How fitting to begin Holy Week with this gospel! This week we recall the events that lead to the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus. These events are surrounded by mysteries too many to name. But we don’t have to name them all.

Like Mary, we kneel and pour out the precious oil of our love on him who brings us life by giving up his own life.