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  • Writer's picturePhil


HOLY TUESDAY: The pain of betrayal

In the upper room, Jesus has just washed his disciples’ feet,

a most tender act of loving service.

He shares bread with them, enjoying the company of his closest friends one last time.

As night falls, Judas is about to betray him.

Was Judas operating at a superficial level,

on the make for a quick 30 pieces of silver,

or does his betrayal reveal a deep and definitive corruption of heart?

Judas was one of the Twelve, and was trusted to be their bursar.

Something must have gone wrong.

Judas was from the south, whereas most of the others seemed to be Galileans.

Did Judas feel the odd one out?

Perhaps Jesus hadn’t “delivered the goods” for Judas –

was he expecting Him to be a military leader rather than the True Messiah?

Judas had free will.

Without free will, Judas could not freely love Jesus.

But with free will, Judas chose to betray Jesus.

The same is true with us.

We have free will and we are given the same ability that Judas had

to accept the love of Jesus or to reject it.

We can let His loving gift of salvation and grace enter our lives

or refuse it.

While at supper with his disciples, Jesus was troubled in spirit and declared,

‘I tell you most solemnly, one of you will betray me,

the one to whom I give the piece of bread that I shall dip in the dish.’

He dipped the piece of bread and gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot.

At that instant, after Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered him. Jesus then said, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly.’

As soon as Judas had taken the piece of bread he went out.

Night had fallen.

The real tragedy of Good Friday was the death of Judas.

This death was truly tragic, meaningless, violent and desperate.

Unless we can identify in some way with his loss of hope,

we have not begun to understand Good Friday.

“Night had fallen”

Judas entered the darkness,

but never came through.

Entry into the darkness is at the very heart of Christian faith and of hope.

It was St John of the Cross in the sixteenth century

who first used the term “the dark night of the soul”.

The way of faith is obscure – as St John of the Cross says,

we travel by night, we pass through the darkness.

As we experience more and more new and frightening forms

of darkness and despair, so our faith shouldn’t be seen

as a refuge or protection from any such encounter,

but rather our Christian faith should encourage us

to face the darkness head-on,

and guide us through the subsequent upheaval and turmoil.

Our Christian faith doesn’t offer corporate security and warmth, ;

Rather the Christ who trod the dark street to Calvary

carries the light for us to guide us along the way

in the darkness of hopelessness and despair.

The message of Calvary is

that there is no future in trying to evade the darkness.

If we can persevere WITH CHRIST through the night of pain

and make the descent into hell with Him, so the darkness will lift,

and we will emerge in a brighter place than before.

Almighty God, you bring to light

things hidden in darkness

and know the shadows of our hearts;

Cleanse and renew us by your Spirit

that we may emerge from darkness to light

in the name of Him who is the Light of the World.


Sacred Heart of Jesus, filled with infinite love,

broken by our ingratitude, pierced by our sins, yet loving us still,

accept the consecration which we make to you,

inflame our hearts with the burning fire of your love,

that we may seek out the lost, have mercy on the fallen

and stand fast for truth and righteousness.

draw us nearer to your sacred side,

and teach us your blessed ways. Amen. (after Eric Milner-White)

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