A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
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?”
“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.”
Good News Reflection:
How do we betray Christ? By our selfishness.
Let’s look at the motives of Judas in today’s Gospel passage. Why did he betray Jesus despite experiencing his unconditional love for three years?
We know that Judas was selfish, because we know that he had embezzled donations (see John 12:6). Intent on finding “what’s in it for me?” he wanted Jesus to become a messiah who would deliver him from Roman oppression. Jesus turned out to be quite an uncontrollable disappointment. Judas was so blinded by his own strategies that he could not fathom the possibility that God might have a better idea.
Self-centered people like Judas don’t like to sit idly by and accept disappointment. When he decided to take control by turning Jesus over to the Jewish authorities, he asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” Until they promised a reward, handing Jesus over was still an if.
No wonder Judas committed suicide! He was unable to recognize the forgiveness that Jesus made available to him, because at the heart of every self-centered person is the belief that they are unworthy of being loved. Selfishness comes from the notion that if I don’t take care of myself, no one else will (not even God!) because I don’t really deserve it.
Are you ever disappointed that Jesus is not what you want him to be for you? We all fall into this “what’s in it for me” trap whenever we’re upset that God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want him to, or when we give our problems to Jesus and life doesn’t get easier, or when he asks us to do something that’s difficult and unrewarding.
We fall into the “what’s in it for me” trap whenever we search for our own solutions after trusting in God and not getting the results we want. We succumb to it by listening to our self-protective fears. Selfishness tells us to protect our wishes, our happiness, our comfort zone, our possessions and our lifestyle. It blinds us to the possibility that God might have a better idea.
Like Judas, in our selfishness we betray Jesus. We profess to trust him as the Lord of our lives, and yet our self-serving decisions prove otherwise. We believe in him only when it suits our purposes. We adore him only when it’s easy.
The question is not “Have I betrayed Jesus?” but “How quickly do I seek his forgiveness after I betray him?” Peter betrayed Jesus, too, but he loved Jesus so much that his selfishness lasted only a little while.
Imagine that you’re sitting with the disciples at the Last Supper. Jesus has just dipped his matzah into the spice dish, and he hands it to you. He’s looking you in the eye. He knows your heart. He loves you despite all your betrayals. What will you say to him? Admit your betrayal; receive his smile. He will now take your sins to the cross with him. Remember to do this at every Mass, because the liturgy transcends time to connect us to the real Last Supper.
Jesus, Lord, You know my weaknesses; You know how and when I can fail You. Give me the courage to overcome all temptation that separates me from You and distances me from my neighbors. Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica