Reading 1, Isaiah 50:4-9A
Responsorial Psalm, Psalms 69:8-10, 21-22, 31 and 33-34
Gospel, Matthew 26:14-25
“My appointed time draws near.” As Jesus prepares for the Last Supper, Judas is preparing too. In the Gospel we hear that Judas has gone to the chief priests and agreed to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
Likewise, in the first reading and Psalm, we hear prophesies of the suffering servant. The appointed time is drawing near when these prophesies will be fulfilled. Isaiah says “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.” The psalmist writes of the betrayal and abandonment that Jesus will soon experience: “For your sake I bear insult,
and shame covers my face.”
“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” Jesus confronts his apostles with the uncomfortable truth, and they each deny it, one by one, saying “Surely it is not I, Lord?”
So, who is Jesus’ betrayer? Judas has already made arrangements to betray Jesus in the garden after dinner. But he is far from alone. Peter will deny Jesus three times before the next morning has begun. All of them will flee when the guards come to arrest Jesus. But yet another betrayer of Jesus remains to be identified.
“Surely it is not I, Lord?” For just as Judas has made preparations for Jesus to be handed over to be crucified, so too do we hand Jesus over to be crucified each time we sin. Just as Peter will deny Jesus, so do we frequently deny our affiliation with Christ whenever confronted by temptations of this world. Just as the rest of them flee from Christ, so to do we each time we refuse to seek our Lord in the Eucharist, or seek forgiveness through Confession.
In response to our betrayal of Jesus, too often we take the path of denial. “Surely it is not I, Lord?” As we listen to the narrative of Jesus’ death throughout week and especially on Good Friday, may we be courageous enough to recognize why Jesus is on the cross:
Yes, it is I.