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The betrayal by Judas

Gospel Reading: 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.”

While they are eating, Jesus declares that one of the Twelve will betray him. This results in confusion among the disciples. Each one says, “Surely it is not I, Lord?” It is indeed a sad moment during their meal when Jesus makes this announcement. In spite of being with Jesus, listening to his teachings, witnessing his healings and expressions of forgiveness, one of his disciples will still betray him.

What may the reason be for such betrayal? The answer is explained in v 15: the chief priests paid him thirty pieces of silver. What a paltry sum to hand over the Messiah to these religious leaders! Judas addresses Jesus as “Rabbi,” meaning Teacher. The other disciples, however, call him “Lord,” a post-resurrection title. Judas fails to recognize Jesus as the promised Messiah.

Jesus pronounces a “woe” on the betrayer. Woe is an expression of lament, feeling sorry for the man. In spite of Judas’ betrayal, Jesus still feels sorry for him. Compassion for the betrayer prevails in the heart of Jesus.

In what ways can we betray Jesus?

Have mercy on us, Lord, forgive us our sins.

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