Wednesday - Lent Time
1) Opening prayer
God our Father,
when the hour of your Son Jesus had come
to accept suffering and death
out of love of you
and his saving love for us,
he did not refuse that suffering and deep pain.
In the hour of trial
that we may have to pass through,
do not let us become rebellious
but keep us trusting in you,
for you save us
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - Matthew 26, 14-25
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 then onwards he began to look 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?' He said, 'Go to a certain man in the
city 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. And while they were eating he said, 'In truth I tell you, one
of you is about to betray me.' They were greatly distressed and started asking
him in turn, 'Not me, 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 me, Rabbi, surely?' Jesus answered, 'It is
you who say it.'
Yesterday the Gospel spoke of the betrayal of Judas and of the denial of Peter.
Today, it speaks once again of the betrayal of Judas. In the description of the
Passion of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, the failure of the disciples is strongly
stressed. In spite of having lived three years together with Jesus, not one of
them defends Jesus. Judas betrays him, Peter denies him, and the others flee. Matthew
narrates everything, not to criticize or to condemn, neither to discourage the
readers, but in order to underline that acceptance and the love of Jesus exceed
the defeat and the failure of the disciples! This way of describing the
attitude of Jesus was a help for the Communities at the time of Matthew. Because
of the frequent persecutions, many were discouraged and had abandoned the
community and asked themselves: “Will it be possible to return? Will God accept
and forgive us?” Matthew responds by suggesting that we can break the
relationship with Jesus, but Jesus never breaks it with us. His love is greater
than our infidelity. This is a very important message which we get from the
Gospel during Holy Week.
Matthew 26, 14-16: The Decision of Judas to betray Jesus. Judas took the
decision after Jesus did not accept the criticism of the disciples concerning
the woman who wastes a very expensive perfume only to anoint Jesus (Mt 26,
6-13). He went to the chief priest and asked: “What are you prepared to give me
if I hand him over to you?” They agreed on the sum of thirty silver pieces. Matthew
recalls the words of the Prophet Zechariah to describe the price agreed upon
(Zc 11, 12). At the same time, the betrayal of Jesus for thirty silver coins
recalls the sale of Joseph by his brothers, decided by the buyers for twenty
coins (Gn 37, 28). It also reminds the price of thirty coins to be paid for the
wounding of a slave (Ex 21, 32).
Matthew 26, 17-19: The preparation for the Passover. Jesus was coming
from Galilee. He did not have a house in Jerusalem. He spent the night in the
Garden of Olives (cf. Jn 8, 1). In the days of the feast of the Passover the
people of Jerusalem increased three times in number because of the enormous
number of pilgrims who went there from all parts. For Jesus it was not easy to
find a big room where to celebrate the Passover together with the pilgrims
coming from Galilee, as himself. He ordered his disciples to find a person in
whose house he had decided to celebrate the Passover. The Gospel does not offer
any other information and allows the imagination to complete what is missing in
the information. Was this a person known by Jesus? A relative? A disciple? Throughout
the centuries the imagination of the Apocrypha has known how to complete this
information, but with little credibility.
Matthew 26, 20-25: The announcement of the betrayal of Judas. Jesus knew
that he will be betrayed. In spite of the fact that Judas did things secretly. Jesus
knew. But in spite of that, he wants to act fraternally with the group of
friends to which Judas belongs. When all were together for the last time, Jesus
announces who is the traitor “Someone who has dipped his hand into the dish
with me will betray me”. This way of announcing the betrayal renders even clearer
the contrast. For the Jews, the communion around the table, to dip the
hand together in the same dish, was the maximum expression of intimacy and
trust. In this way, Matthew suggests that in spite of the betrayal made by
someone who was a friend, the love of Jesus is greater than the betrayal!
What strikes in the way in which Matthew describes these facts? Between the
denial and the betrayal there is the institution of the Eucharist (Mt 26,
26-29): the betrayal of Judas first (Mt 26, 20-25); the denial of Peter and the
flight of the disciples, afterwards (Mt 25, 30-35). Thus, he stressed for us
the incredible gratuitousness of the love of Jesus, which exceeds the betrayal,
the denial and the flight of the friends. His love does not depend on what
others do for him.
4) Personal questions
Am I capable of being like Judas and to deny and betray God, Jesus, the
In Holy Week it is important to reserve some moments to become aware of the
unbelievable gratuity of God’s love for me.
5) Concluding Prayer
Sing to God, play music to his
build a road for the Rider of the
rejoice in Yahweh, dance before
Father of orphans, defender of
such is God in his holy dwelling. (Ps 68,4-5)