I wrote this for my parish’s Lenten Gospel reflections and decided to pop in and share it here as well! It is based on Matthew 26:14-27:66.
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus gives His apostles the Eucharist at the Last Supper before being betrayed by Judas and “handed over to sinners,” who put Him on trial and crucify Him.
While there is quite a lot to unpack in this long passage, Judas’ question to the chief priests haunts me: “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” This is what puts the plot against Jesus into motion. I see this question showing up in our lives, as it is implicit in our thoughts when we experience the Enemy’s temptation. What are you willing to give me if I abandon Jesus? If I were to leave Him, what will I get?
What are we willing to trade Jesus for in our lives?
Judas was willing to send Jesus to His death for thirty pieces of silver. Pilate was willing to send an innocent man to his death out of fear of losing his reputation and power. Even Peter, the “rock” upon which Christ chose to build His Church, was willing to deny Jesus to shield himself from the people in the courtyard. These men weighed their interests against those of the Creator Himself and decided that their desires outweighed His importance to them.
What have we found ourselves willing to abandon Jesus for?
No one thinks they are going to abandon Jesus, of course. The apostles themselves vehemently protested the idea that any of them could betray Him, crying “Surely it is not I, Lord?”
We can see this denial in our own lives. Every time we sin, we willingly distance ourselves from God, telling Him, in effect, “You are not as important to me as this is.”
But sometimes our betrayal is more subtle. Maybe we’ve refrained from saying grace before our meals in public because we don’t want to draw attention to ourselves. Maybe we never talk about religion with our friends because we don’t want to have to explain our beliefs. Maybe we’re afraid to speak up when Christ’s Bride, the Church, is being insulted, because we don’t want to cause conflict or have people think differently of us for being Christian or Catholic. Maybe we fall into despair because we’re holding tighter to our anxiety over what’s happening in the world than we are clinging to God.
As we enter into Holy Week, may we become more aware of times we have abandoned Jesus and find the courage to return to the One who promised, regardless of how we treat Him, “I will never forsake you or abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5)