A meditation from Fr. Joseph Torchia, O.P.The above meditation contains a reference to Judas in the 2nd to the last paragraph that bears thought.
Throughout Holy Week, we have reflected on the days before Jesus’ passion and crucifixion. We have followed Him into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and heard of all the events leading to His betrayal, arrest, trial, and death on the Cross. As we gather together at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, we call to mind the most profound mystery of our Christian faith. What we commemorate this evening puts everything which happened on the first Good Friday into proper perspective. On that first Holy Thursday, Christ accomplished something that would shape the lives of Christians for all time. But how can we begin to grasp the full significance of the Last Supper? We have heard this account so often we can easily become anesthetized to its meaning, or think of it as something that occurred in the distant past. But we know that what Jesus did on that night and over the next two days are not merely past events. They continue in our lives; their impact reverberates across the centuries. Jesus is present to us here and now, just as He was present to His closest disciples in the upper room. What makes Him present is the Holy Eucharist and the ordained priesthood that brings the Eucharist to God’s people.
When Jesus gave His disciples His Body to eat and His Blood to drink (I Cor. 11:23-26), He prefigured the complete sacrifice He would make on Calvary in less than twenty-four hours: the offering of His Body and Blood on the Cross for our redemption. What binds us together as Catholics lies in our belief that the same Body that was broken and the same Blood that He shed are with us tonight. As we confront this mystery of Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist, we know that He is with us in the most intimate way; He enters the very marrow of our being; He gives a share in His own Divine life. In this Sacred Banquet of the altar, Christ provides the nourishment that sustains us in body and spirit. And we need this sustenance if we are to live out the Gospel message from one challenging day to the next, and remain faithful to our Christian vocation. This is why Christ gave us this Sacrament in the most familiar of all human encounters. He chose the simple experience of eating and drinking together as the means of making Himself present to us for all time. As our first reading reminds us (Ex. 12:1-8,11-14), Jesus instituted the Eucharist in the context of a traditional Passover Supper, with the breaking of bread, and the blessing over a cup of wine. But when He consecrated the bread and wine, He initiated a new Exodus, a liberation of humanity from the bondage of sin and death. And Jesus Himself became the sacrificial Lamb Who offered Himself up for us. That’s the heart of the mystery. Because the Eucharist could only be possible for us now by virtue of the sacrifice that Jesus would make the next day on the Cross.
In dying for us, Christ gave us the means to eternal life. But how are we to live in the present, in the context of our daily lives? Our Gospel provides the answer. Jesus shows us how Christians should live when He washes the feet of His disciples, including the one about to betray Him (Jn. 13:1-15). Over these past Lenten weeks, many of us have been concerned about what we should give up in a penitential way. But this merely sets the stage for something more important. How are we imitating what Jesus did at the Last Supper? To imitate Him in our own lives means that we follow His example and heed the command He gave His disciples (Jn. 13:34-35): Love one another as I have loved you. This means that we must accept His invitation to serve, in the way He was willing to serve, with all we have to give.
As we reenact Christ’s washing of the disciples’ feet this evening, let us mediate on the meaning and demands of Christian discipleship. He shows us what we must do (Jn. 13:15): I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. This is the model of service, which finds its fullest expression in the ministerial priesthood, patterned after the example of Christ Himself. The priest (acting in persona Christi) thus becomes a model of service for all the faithful in making Jesus present to the Church, the Body of Christ on earth. And the faithful, in turn, become “ambassadors of Christ” (II Cor. 5:20), witnessing to the truth of the Gospel in word and deed. Let us begin this great Triduum in that same spirit of service to God and each other: the kind of service that allows us to enter into the mystery of Christ’s suffering and death, and then, set the world ablaze with the fire of His love.
Fr. Joseph Torchia, O.P., currently serves as a professor of Philosophy at Providence College in Rhode Island. He is also the Editor of The Thomist, a quarterly review that seeks to promote original and penetrating inquiry into the full range of contemporary philosophical and theological questions.
Judas was a traitor/betrayer, but he was hidden; Jesus practiced that traditional Catholic discipline of not exposing the sins of one which are not publicly known. There is no record of Judas preaching against Jesus, rather his sins were hidden moral failings.
Try as I might I cannot think of a case in scripture where the Apostle or Prophet is an open and declared enemy of God that is as clear as this. Perhaps we can consider this in the case of Saul and the "guild prophets" - their pretention and demise are plain enough, their false leadership as well. Perhaps there is a connection between David and Saul and Jesus and Judas; but Elijah certainly takes down one bunch of bad guild prophets!
It is clear to me that charity is owed to all, including all the Judases and false prophets; a charity perhaps too generously shown to priests who abused and hid, a charity which does not impell one to wash the feet of a false prophet, so to speak.
Wishing you blessing this Triduum, and the recognition that the cross of Christ is the way; be not afraid.