Wednesday of Holy Week

In the midpoint of Holy Week,
let us pray that our hearts remain open to God’s love and mercy.

“Let the oppressed see it and be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
For the LORD hears the needy,
and does not despise his own that are in bonds.”
Psalm 69:32‒33

It is the middle of Holy Week and the opponents of Jesus are now gathering to close the deal on his betrayal. As we have seen, Judas was the holder of the common purse for Jesus and his followers. He also embezzled from the common fund, so approaching Jesus’ opponents for his own financial gain is not that surprising. Judas asks what it is worth. He is told thirty pieces of silver—a paltry sum, and the amount of compensation paid to one whose slave has been gored by an ox owned by another man (Exodus 21:32). By accepting the offer, Judas puts his trust not in Jesus, but in treacherous commerce.

When thinking of the roots of Judas’s betrayal, one need only follow the money. His corruption probably began in small ways, a denarii here, a denarii there. Who would notice? As he was trusted by Jesus to hold the common fund, he abused that trust. And in so many ways it is easy to follow Judas’s lead and see money as the singular route for happiness.

Millions of people line up to buy lottery tickets, hoping to win millions—sometimes even billions—and what they think will bring them earthly paradise. The stories of the winners of such giant windfalls belies that hope. Winners have found themselves alienated by family and friends; winners are accused of not sharing the wealth at a fair rate; they are constantly hounded by people who want to sell them the latest financial plan, the latest invention, or the latest scheme to suck the winner dry. Winners are unable to have a normal lifestyle. They cannot go out to eat at their favorite restaurant, go to a movie, or shop at the mall without the constant hounding from envious neighbors who want to strip them clean. Money given generously to younger members of families has been spent on recreational drugs leading to overdoses and death. The stress has led to divorce in decades-old marriages. Money has not brought them freedom and paradise but a golden cage.

So many “winners” are discovering what Judas ultimately discovered: “In a heart possessed by wealth, there isn’t much room for faith: everything is involved with wealth, there is no room for faith” (Pope Francis, Angelus, 2 March 2014).

Lacking faith, and having no room in his heart to ask for love and forgiveness, Judas could not live in the insane world his distorted desires had led him to.

Pope Francis
“Judas wasn’t the one who sinned the most . . . I don’t know who was the most sinful. . . . Poor Judas is that one who closed himself to love and this is why he became a traitor. . . . All of the Apostles fled at the difficult moment of the Passion, and they left Jesus alone. They are all sinners.”
General Audience, 27 March 2013

Lord, let me praise your name, for in your love you revive my heart.