Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “How much will you give me if I hand him over to you?” They promised to give him thirty pieces of silver; and from then on, he kept looking for the best way to hand Jesus over to them.
On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and said to him, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover meal for you?” Jesus answered, “Go into the city, to the house of a certain man, and tell him, ‘The Master says: My hour is near, and I will celebrate the Passover with my disciples in your house.’”
The disciples did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover meal.
When it was evening, Jesus sat at table with the Twelve. While they were eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you: one of you will betray me.” They were deeply distressed, and they asked him, one after the other, “You do not mean me, do you, Lord?”
He answered, “The one who dips his bread with me will betray me. The Son of Man is going as the Scriptures say he will. But alas for that one who betrays the Son of Man: better for him not to have been born.” Judas, the one who would betray him, also asked, “You do not mean me, Master, do you?” Jesus replied, “You have said it.”
It is difficult to fathom the personality of Judas Iscariot. As he is presented in today’s gospel reading, he comes out in the darkest colors possible: not only is he willing to betray an exceedingly good man like Jesus to his mortal enemies, the chief priests, but he does this ignoble action for a sordid gain: thirty pieces of silver.
However, the Judas whom we meet here is no doubt the result of a long and complicated spiritual evolution. When Jesus chose him to become a disciple, surely Judas was then a potential candidate for holiness, like all the other apostles. For, if Jesus chose him, it was no doubt because Jesus could discern in Judas the seeds of greatness. Yet, at some point after that, Judas freely chose little by little to resist the call to holiness and to favor instead his fondness for money—this through a series of small and daily decisions.
In all this we see that Jesus always respected Judas’ freedom. Even when he became sure that Judas would betray him, he never expelled Judas from the Twelve. God rejects no one, even those who betray his love.
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