Testing and Betrayal

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

I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced.
(Isaiah 50:6-7)

Lord, we trust that all adversities
Are meant for our purification;
All our problems and difficulties
We believe You are the solution.

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 deliver Him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 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 reclined at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, He said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” They were very sad and began to say to Him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, 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 you don’t mean me, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “You have said so.” (Matthew 26:14-25)

Reflection

As we ponder on the events leading to the crucifixion, questions inevitably arise: Why did Judas betray his Master? And when did he decide to go his separate way? Six days earlier, we recall that Jesus and His close disciples went to visit Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary in Bethany. At dinnertime, Mary took an alabaster of expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet. Judas was very critical about such an extravagance, and said, “Why was this oil not sold for 300 days wages, and given to the poor (instead)?” (Jn.12:5) In response, Jesus castigated him and said, “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this perfumed oil upon my body, she did it to prepare me for burial” (Mt.26:11-12). This was the remark that made Judas realize that his efforts in following Jesus was futile, since He Himself admitted that he was going to die anyway. And if Judas was going to split from the group, practical man that he was, he might as well make some hay out of it. He had six days to work out a plan, then made a deal with the chief priests.

It is interesting to note the different paths that Jesus and Judas took to accomplish their plans: Jesus knew (being God) the shame, torture and death that He would endure in following the will of the Father, but proceeded out of love and obedience. Judas, on the other hand, thought that making money by betraying Jesus was the best way out of a hopeless situation, because of selfishness and greed. Both of them were tested. Only love prevailed; selfishness and greed led to self-destruction.

Money is never the best option; it only leads to despair and destruction. Trust in God is always the best solution. Many times in life we will be tested, and the lure of money may appear to be the easiest way out, but more often that option comes from the evil one. The faith of the early Christians were strengthened by the words of the apostles who said, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). The Christian way of life was never intended to be an easy one. Jesus said, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master,’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” (Jn 15:20) During this Holy Week of Lent, let us meditate on the sacred truths of God’s Word in the Bible—that we all have to face the tests of trials and tribulations so that we may be purified, like gold in fire. For “…all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim 3:12). Nonetheless, we are also encouraged by St. Paul’s other letters: “Brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (Jam 1:2) “… not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Rom 5:3)

Lord God, I keep in mind these words: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He guards all his bones, not one of them is broken.” (Psa 34:19) May all our sufferings be for Your glorification. Amen.

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