Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wednesday of Holy Week

(Isaiah 50:4-9a; Matthew 26:14-25)

A decade ago the biblical world was in commotion over the discovery of a manuscript attributed to the apostle Judas Iscariot.  The manuscript, entitled the “Gospel of Judas,” featured a dialogue between Jesus and Judas in which Jesus hails him as the bearer of his truth.  Some scholars made the case that the text provides a whole new interpretation of Christianity.  More judicious ones, however, saw that there is little new in such writing.  Indeed, the late second-century orthodox theologian Irenaeus of Lyons even wrote of the document.  He described it as one of many such writings of the time which sought to undermine established truth and order.

Why are people then and now so fascinated with preposterous ideas like the one contained in the spurious “Gospel of Judas”?  Are they so restless on account of their own shortcomings that they will believe every new word in the wind?  Or perhaps they have become so disillusioned by the hypocrisy of Christians that they seek a new meaning for Christian truth? One way or another, they should find in today’s passage from Matthew’s Gospel enough reason to hold firm to the tradition.

Human beings very often act as Judas does in the reading.  They are willing to betray not only ideals but also friends for money.  They may even defy their friends in the face to hide their deceit as Judas does when he calls Jesus by the prohibited title, “Rabbi.”  Jesus has not come to reveal all such evil but to offer its perpetrators forgiveness.  He will die so that we might repent of our sins and recover our innocence with his gracious help.  Even when we fail in our efforts at reform, he remains ready to help us try again.