Rotten to the Core

Matthew 26: 14-25
Is 50: 4-9a / Psa 69

“…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.”
(Mt. 26:24)

In dark of night in haste I hide,
With shameful sins I can’t deny:
Anger, lust, gluttony and pride...
Who betrayed You, Lord? It was I.

Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.'” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, He said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely not I, Lord?” Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.” (Matthew 26:14-25)

Reflection

In all respects, Judas Iscariot was different from the other apostles. His origin, as indicated in his name Iscariot, set him apart from the other Apostles, who were all Galileans. This could have influenced the crooked path he chose to take, for lack of sympathy from the other apostles.

The great treachery and fall of Judas was the final outcome of a gradual failing in lesser things, like his love of money, false compassion for the poor, and stealing from the contributions. Little by little, Satan’s evil spirit corrupted his soul.

The sight that greeted me as I was about to enter our compound seemed surreal, like the set of a disaster scene in a movie. Our iron gate was twisted, one part yanked out of its hinges under the weight of the huge firetree that had collapsed without any warning, barely missing the guardhouse. Fortunately it had fallen at a time when no car or pedestrian was coming in or going out of the gate. I got out of my car to examine the cause of the tree’s collapse. Termites! The core of the base and roots had rotted, and the termites had eaten away most of the tree’s once strong foundation. The massive tree that once stood like a formidable sentinel beside our compound gate was doomed to fall, because its insides had rotted to the core.

Judas must have had some virtues that qualified him to become a member of Jesus’ tight circle. But despite being in the Lord’s company, he was never able to dissociate himself from worldly pursuits and eventually, like deadly termites, devious designs wormed in and corrupted his soul.

Great betrayals can begin from small indiscretions. If Satan cannot seduce us with major sins, he will attack and weaken our foundation with numerous little ‘venial sins’ such as ‘white lies’ and sins of omission that will eat away our core values. When a strong turbulence in our life finally comes along, we may, like Judas, fall crashing down in the sin of despair.

Let me not hide, or justify, or try to deny the sins that may be small, but may lead to bigger offenses later on. Remind me always, Lord that even the smallest sin I commit is a betrayal, and must never be entertained at all.

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