28 March – Wednesday of Holy Week
The Lord has given me
a disciple’s tongue.
So that I may know how to reply to the wearied
he provides me with speech.
Each morning he wakes me to hear,
to listen like a disciple.
The Lord has opened my ear.
For my part, I made no resistance,
neither did I turn away.
I offered my back to those who struck me,
my cheeks to those who tore at my beard;
I did not cover my face
against insult and spittle.
The Lord comes to my help,
so that I am untouched by the insults.
So, too, I set my face like flint;
I know I shall not be shamed.
My vindicator is here at hand. Does anyone start proceedings against me?
Then let us go to court together.
Who thinks he has a case against me?
Let him approach me.
The Lord is coming to my help,
who will dare to condemn me?
One of the Twelve, the man called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you prepared to give me if I hand him over to you?’ They paid him thirty silver pieces, and from that moment he looked for an opportunity to betray him.
Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus to say, ‘Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the passover?’ ‘Go to so-and-so in the city’ he replied ‘and say to him, “The Master says: My time is near. It is at your house that I am keeping Passover with my disciples.”’ The disciples did what Jesus told them and prepared the Passover.
When evening came he was at table with the twelve disciples. And while they were eating he said ‘I tell you solemnly, one of you is about to betray me.’ They were greatly distressed and started asking him in turn, ‘Not I, Lord, surely?’ He answered, ‘Someone who has dipped his hand into the dish with me, will betray me. The Son of Man is going to his fate, as the scriptures say he will, but alas for that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! Better for that man if he had never been born!’ Judas, who was to betray him; asked in his turn, ‘Not I, Rabbi, surely?’ ‘They are your own words’ answered Jesus.
“What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you”
“What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you” – such cold words, bartering one’s soul for a few silver dollars. And then the feigned surprise, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” when confronted with the truth.
It’s easy to hate on Judas, and see him as that one-dimensional villain when we have history on our side. We know how his story ends. But being self-righteous about this is akin to obsessing over the speck of dust in our brother’s eye, while we miss the plank in our own. Let’s be honest, we have all danced with the Devil. Our language might not be as overt; we may not even have exchanged any words. But every time we’ve told a little lie to save ourselves, every time we’ve been sharp-tongued instead of compassionate, every time we’ve joined in the gossip instead of halting it — we’ve danced with the Devil.
“How is that the same?!”, you say. “I didn’t sell Jesus out to his enemies?!” Judas probably didn’t think Jesus was going to be crucified either. He failed to grasp the enormity of the moment and placed his trust in the wrong people. A fall from grace does not occur overnight. It’s the result of countless bad decisions compounded over several years — the company we keep, how we choose to spend our time, our approach to money, how we treat the people in our lives. All these add up so that when crunch time comes, we make a fatal decision. “If you are faithful in the little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in the little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities” (Luke 16:10). Sin is an innocuous thing. It starts off harmlessly, but when we get away with things often enough, a kind of carelessness sets in. And at the end of it, that’s what Judas was. He was careless, with the greatest living treasure no less.
This Holy Week, take some time to reflect on the ‘little things’ in your life. Could you be more kind, more humble, more patient, more compassionate, more honest? Is there a wrong that has been gnawing at you, that needs to be made right before the start of Easter? Judas wasn’t born evil — that behavior was learned and conditioned into him. How are we conditioning ourselves? Are we setting ourselves up for a fall too?
(Today’s Oxygen by Sharon Soo)
Prayer : We pray for the humility to recognize and change the things about ourselves that are not right with God.
Thanksgiving : We give thanks for those who remind us what right living should look like. We give thanks for all the positive role models that God sends our way.