A Holy Thursday Reflection:
While Holy Thursday holds many points of important reflection, (the last supper and the garden of Gethsemane for instance) this meditation turns to Judas. It is important that as we read Judas’ betrayal we do not make the mistake of thinking ourselves very different from him, we are not. Judas may have been a greedy man, but he was Jesus’ friend nonetheless. Images of Satan possessing the body of Judas do harm to the deep lesson that we can learn from the life of Judas: our choices matter.
“Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him.
Now when evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples. As they were eating, He said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.” Being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?”
“The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself.’”
We can learn from the life of Judas. We learn that we must decide who our God is, no one will decide for us. It is not our parents, not our pastors, not our governments, not our corporations, not our spouses or favorite authors who can choose for us, no one but us. We have many other options than Jesus on the cross, there is no point in denying it, and some of them seem pretty good some times. From the daily grind to the danger implicit in following Jesus, we have a choice to make, just as Judas did, and there is much to lose. This prayer from Henri Nouwen sounds eerily like what I imagine Judas’ thought process would have been like.
“Dear Lord Jesus, I remain so torn and divided. I truly want to follow you, but I also want to follow my own desires and lend an ear to the voices that speak about prestige, success, human respect, pleasure, power, and influence. Help me be attentive instead to your voice, the voice which calls me to choose the narrow road to life. The choice for your way has to be made every moment in my life. I have to choose thoughts that are your thoughts, words that are your words, and actions that are your actions. There are no times or places without choices. And I know how deeply I resist choosing you. Be with me every moment and in every place so that I may recognize your way and choose to walk it. Amen.”
Scripture for Reflection: The Garden of Gethsemane
He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray,m saying,
“Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”
Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”