Father James Swanson, LC
One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,
went to the chief priests and said, "What are you
willing to give me if I hand him over
to you?" They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity
to hand him over. On the first day of
the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and
said, "Where do you want us to prepare for
you to eat the Passover?" He said, "Go into
the city to a certain man and tell him, ´The
teacher says, "My appointed time draws near; in your
house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples."´"
The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and
prepared the Passover. When it was evening, he reclined at
table with the Twelve. And while they were eating,
he said, "Amen, I say to you, one of
you will betray me." Deeply distressed at this, they began
to say to him one after another, "Surely it
is not I, Lord?" He said in reply, "He
who has dipped his hand into the dish with me
is the one who will betray me. The Son
of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
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." Then Judas,
his betrayer, said in reply, "Surely it is not
I, Rabbi?" He answered, "You have said so."
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I wish to accompany you closely
on the road to Calvary. If I were to
contemplate you more often as you hang scourged and
bloody upon the cross, I’m certain I would be
able to rest in your love and base my actions
on that one truth. I know that you have
loved me with an eternal love: you have proven it
there on the wood of the cross. So I
long to respond with gratitude, peace and the firm
determination to spread your love to everyone.
Jesus, help me to stay strong in my faith.
of the Twelve a Traitor? We often think that
Judas must have been different, obviously worse than the other
disciples. If that were true, everyone would have suspected
him when Jesus said, “One of you will betray
me.” They would have thought: “It must be Judas.
He’s always been bad. He’s capable of betraying Jesus. I
don’t know why Jesus picked him.” Instead, Judas did
not stand out as any worse than they were. If
he did, they would have immediately suspected him. Each
one of us, as well, could become a Judas
little by little, first by giving up our principles on
smaller matters and then later on more important matters.
In the Christian life there always needs to be
a healthy tension of straining forward and of watchfulness.
The one who is trustworthy in small matters is trustworthy
in greater matters.
2. Is It I? The apostles are
all asking, “Is it I?” Why? Was there some
widespread desire to betray him of which they were
barely keeping control? No, but they were in a very
dangerous situation. The Pharisees had decided to kill Jesus.
The apostles know it. That’s why the whole group
had gone to stay in Jericho for a while. Jerusalem
was too dangerous. They can imagine themselves following Jesus
to the Temple the next day, being singled out
in the crush of the crowd and then having their
life threatened to provide information about where Jesus can
be found at night. They wonder what they would
say. With my life on the line would I betray
Jesus? This is why they ask, “Is it I?”
When push comes to shove, what comes first in my
life? Would I ever consider selling out on Jesus
for something or someone else?
3. Vigilance of the Heart: Judas
had everything he needed to be a great apostle.
He had a magnanimous heart, which is why Jesus
picked him. God never destines anyone for failure. So what
happened to him? At some point he stopped working
on his friendship with Jesus. Some would point to
the moment of the discourse on the Bread of Life
recorded in John 6. Judas couldn’t accept that he
needed to eat Jesus’ body and drink his blood.
Jesus must be wrong, and therefore he is a false
Messiah. John 6:64 tells us that Jesus knew who
his betrayer would be. Jesus gives Judas a chance to
leave the group and remain an honest man in
John 6:67. Instead, he stays, becoming a hypocrite –
a “devil” in Jesus’ words – and begins the path
that will lead to betrayal. Knowing that my faith
is the most precious gift I have received from
God, do I watch over and nourish my faith so
that it grows and is strong?
Christ: Lord, I have betrayed you so many times, even
when I do such a simple thing as not
saying grace in a restaurant out of fear that
others will realize I am a Catholic. May the experience
of your Passion and death help me to have
the courage to live by my convictions at all times.
Resolution:Today I will live all the demands of my
faith, especially in the moments when they point me
out as a follower of Christ. Today I will not
betray him, even in the smallest way.