Wednesday of Holy Week
(Isaiah 50:4-9a; Matthew 26:14-25)
Unfortunately our gospel translation omits a word that is in the original Greek manuscripts. The passage should begin with the word Then. “Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot…” This time notation indicates a critical moment in the lives of both Jesus and Judas.
Jesus has just been anointed by an unknown woman with expensive ointment. His disciples complain about the waste of money that might have been given to the poor. But Jesus tells them that there are times when significant outlays of money are justified. Such a time is burial of the dead for which the woman anointed Jesus. At the same moment then Judas goes seeking money from the chief priests. For thirty pieces of silver he will deliver Jesus into their hands. Actually it is a small amount – the equivalent of paying a hitman approximately $50 for committing murder. For some other reason Judas must want Jesus out of the way. Unlike Jesus he does not know the value of things.
A recent statement by Pope emeritus Benedict indicates the value of something that is frequently overlooked today. The statement was issued to show how the sexual revolution and the deterioration of moral theology gave rise to sexual abuse of children. In the statement Benedict emphasizes the value of faith. He says that our Christian faith must be protected. In the context of sexual abuse this means that the rights of an accused priest must not be exaggerated to the extent that faith in Christ and his Church is jeopardized. In a larger context it means that we proclaim the priority of faith when contemporaries treat it as superstition or personal preference. Faith in Jesus gives human life a solid meaning. It assures the presence of love among persons and nations. It gives everyone – from the poorest beggar to the wealthiest king – hope for eternal life.