Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.
On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
Jesus foretells the betrayal of Judas Iscariot in today’s gospel. We probably think this is the most grievous sin of all time, a sin that surely cannot ever be forgiven, a sin that is pure evil.
The denial of Jesus by Peter happens just hours later after Jesus is arrested. Is not this a sin of almost equal weight? Are we not told by experts that to completely ignore someone, denial, is more hurtful than outright rejection? So, what is the difference between these two sins? It is not the sin, but the sinner.
Judas despairs to the point of killing himself. He does not believe he can ever be forgiven. Peter weeps bitterly, but knows Jesus’ love for him will overcome his own sin and sinfulness. During the first week of the Spiritual Exercises St. Ignatius instructs us to pray for the grace to feel intense shame and sorrow because of our sins and their effect on our lives.
During this first week of the exercises, St. Ignatius also has us consider how God loves us so much He will not allow evil to cut us off from Him. He points to the loving people in our lives, the wonders of creation and the gift of His own Son. We are loved sinners. With God, all things are possible!
Perhaps a personal review of our own sins and bringing them before our loving God in the sacrament of reconciliation is appropriate at this point in our Lenten journey.
—David McNulty, Provincial Assistant for Advancement, Chicago-Detroit Province Jesuits
Lord, protect us from anything that would try to displace you as the center of our lives. Sharpen our sensitivity to everything that has the potential to call forth a deeper response to our life in you. We pray that our only desire and our one choice is to choose that which leads to deepening your life in us.
—Prayer adapted from St. Ignatius, the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises