Hi, I’m Brother Brenden and I want to thank you for joining me for the first of what will be a weekly Word from Down Under brought to you by the Oratory of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary a ministry of the Unified Old Catholic Church.
In the life of the Church today’s referred to as the Wednesday in Holy Week. For Christians this week is the holiest of the year as it contains the most significant events in our history, the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These events are significant not only for Christians, but for all of humanity, as through them the way is open for all of us to be restored to a full relationship with God, to have our wrongs forgiven and one day receive our reward if we accept and follow Christ.
The readings for Holy Week follow Jesus from his entry into Jerusalem on the back of a Donkey, on Palm Sunday, right through to the miracle of the empty tomb on Easter Day. Today’s Gospel though focusses on the preparation of Jesus and His disciples for the Passover.
I want to share the reading with you which can be found in the Gospel according to Matthew 26:14-25 –
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?”
“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.”
In today’s reading there are two figures that stand large, Jesus, who is going to be betrayed, and one of his Apostles, Judas, who is going to betray him. There’s been a lot of discussion and debate throughout the centuries of Christianity about the role of Judas and how we should view his actions. For some, they look to passages like those in today’s reading that suggest that events had been written and that Judas had no choice, someone had to betray Jesus. However, we need to remember that God isn’t a puppeteer sitting on a cloud pulling all of our string; since the time we were placed in the Garden of Eden God has given us a certain freedom of choice (albeit a freedom with consequences). So it’s clear to me that Judas chose the path of betrayal and the consequences that were to follow.
So what reason did Judas have for this betrayal? Why on earth would someone who walked and talked with Jesus, who had accepted him as their Messiah suddenly turn on him? An examination of today’s reading doesn’t really make it 100% clear however if we cast our biblical net a little wider we may start to see some possible reasons. In the Gospel of John 12:4-6 we’re told about Jesus being anointed with Myrrh and that Judas had objected due to the waste of money and resources. It’s been suggested that Judas was a greedy man and that maybe he’d been pilfering from the common purse. When we join this with today’s reading where he asks the Temple Officials what they will give him for Jesus it seems that his motive may have become clear, greed. Maybe Judas had become disenchanted with Jesus and the Apostles, and he set his own greed and love for money up as an idol and this led to his betrayal.
The story of Judas is a good one for us to always keep in mind, especially at this time of year when we should be focussing our thoughts and our actions on the Saviour and all that he’s done for us. Are we setting up idols for ourselves to draw us away from Holy Week and shift our focus from the message of the Cross and Tomb?
All it takes is a walk through any shopping centre or supermarket to see where the focus of western society is at this time of year. Images of bunnies and rows of chocolate eggs abound; people are busily scurrying around buying chocolatey gifts for children and loved ones. Now this is all well and good, I for one enjoy a nice bit of chocolate at any time of year! My question though is, how many of those who are celebrating Easter in this way (or who are looking forward to Australia’s four day weekend) will find themselves in Church this year, or will remember, in some way, to thank Christ for His sacrifice? After all isn’t that the real reason we celebrate Easter?
As you all prepare for your final trips to the shop to get those last minuet chocolate eggs and bunnies can I encourage you to give some thought to those gifts? Along with the delicious gifts of chocolate why not include a little reminder of the real message of Easter? You could include a Prayer Card, an Easter Card with a scripture or hand written message of the hope of the resurrection inside. If you have children in your home why not retell the story of the resurrection before you hand out your eggs?
In all I hope that each and every one of you has a happy and healthy Holy Week and that we can all focus on the Saviour of the world and all He has done for us. Remember that Jesus didn’t only die for the holy and those that go to Church. He died for you, for me, and for every single person that has or ever will live on the earth. As you journey through Holy Week I want you all to remember that Jesus loves and cares for you and you can always cast your burdens at his feet. If you have any prayer intentions, or simply want to talk to a listening ear please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us through the contact page of this website.
From myself and the whole Unified Old Catholic Church I wish you a happy Easter, and ask that you’ll join me in praying the Collect for the Wednesday of Holy Week:
Lord God, whose blessed Son our Saviour gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
The other readings for the Wednesday of Holy Week can be found here