March 23, 2016
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.”
Jesus' final words of today's Gospel are hugely ominous; they contain the most effective warning (in my opinion) in all of human history ("woe to that man...it would be better than if he had never been born") and hearken to his later responses to Pontius Pilate at the beginning of his very Passion (Luke 23:3).
But these words carry such immense weight for another reason: Jesus is affirming that our beliefs, words, and actions matter. Not only that, but they matter in an eternal life or death sense; to the point where our human decisions can betray our Creator and wrongly condemn the Fount of Life to death. At least a temporary one.
Our humanity can't overcome divinity, it can only overcome our ability to receive the gift of God's love. Yet the fact that we have the opportunity to choose love is what gives it purpose and power; faith moves mountains, hope does not disappoint, and love brings eternal life only when we choose to receive that love.
As we begin our blessed Triduum, I want to reinforce what Erin mentioned in her Tuesday reflection: Do not shy away from Christ and His love for us! Do not shrink away from his suffering and Passion! Instead, receive it as the perfect love of Jesus for you, casting out fear in all its depth and redemption. God is Love, present in the Eucharist, in the crucifixion, and in the resurrection.
Choose to receive and profess Love. Pray that we, when we judged for our earthly actions in Paradise, might recount our proclamation of Jesus' love throughout our lives, and he might reply, "You have said so."
Praised be Jesus Christ.