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Shall we betray Jesus today?

Meditation on justice and peace for the Wednesday of Holy Week


Readings: Isaiah 50: 4-9 -- Matthew 26:4-25 -- Psalm 69

Today we read again of God's Suffering Servant. He is well spoken to those who are weary. His words bring life and resuscitation. He gives his back to be beaten, his face is not shielded from blows and spit. He is steadfast and certain throughout persecution and will triumph over those who persecute him.

All of which is fine and sufficiently pious . . . but. . . enough betrayal already!  Three days we have read about Judas and Christ.  How much more betrayal can we handle?  Well, indeed, until such time as we stop betraying Christ, we will need to continue to hear this story again and again and again.  Maybe eventually we will get the point. Our discomfort with the repetition is evidence of the need.

SO the price for Jesus was  30 pieces of silver. Not exactly a princely sum, no doubt the rulers thought they were getting a bargain.  Various authorities suggest it was the equivalent of maybe 5-6 weeks wages. Which is to say, betraying Jesus seems to have paid well.  It was, shall we say, an instant gratification?

We don't know if money was the motivation of Judas.  Some say that he was a nationalist, and was disappointed that Jesus was not leading an armed insurrection.  Perhaps he hoped that the spectacle of a rigged trial and death sentence for this saintly prophet would spark a popular rebellion.

What is our price for betraying Jesus? Do we receive the approval of our friends and families? Do we get a feeling of pride as we see our nation march off to a war that somehow validates us as human beings? Does our heart beat faster as we contemplate the bombs destroying our enemies? Do we deliberately ignore the detail that those bombs also incinerate children? When we turn away from the poor -- whether they be at a stop light with a sign or the children of Iraq and Afghanistan -- do we justify our actions by feelings of personal superiority? "I am sure glad I am not like him." Or her as the case may be. Do we whisper lies to ourselves so that we feel better about doing wrong?

We willingly participate in the sins of the modern era and plead as an excuse, "Everybody's doin' it, doin' it, doin' it."  Not only is everybody doing it, many of us are making out like fat rat as a result.  It appears that betrayal in the modern world pays as well as it did 2000 years ago, or at least, it appears to pay. If we take a holistic view of the situation, the bad bargain nature of the transaction become apparent, but we aren't trained to look at the holistic view, nor do we routinely consider the long term consequences.  We are looking for the instant gratification, the quick fix, the fast rush.

Our inability to understand the consequences of our actions notwithstanding, the Bible says, "Sow not in furrows of injustice lest you reap a seven-fold harvest."  We can see the fulfillment of this wisdom saying every night on the evening news.

What Judas did was monstrously wrong,  but before we rise up against him in judgment, shouldn't we first ask ourselves how we have betrayed the Jesus who is among us today?

Prayer intentions today:

+ Pray for a tender conscience regarding the sin of betraying the Jesus who is among us today.

Praxis today:

+ Today is a day of quiet before the storm. Be still and quiet and know that the Lord is God.

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