A reading from the gospel according to Matthew 26:14-25:
14 One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests
15 and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
16 and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.
17 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?”
18 He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The teacher says, “My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.”‘”
19 The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover.
20 When it was evening, he reclined at table with the Twelve.
21 And while they were eating, he said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
22 Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, “Surely it is not I, Lord?”
23 He said in reply, “He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me.
24 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.”
25 Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” He answered, “You have said so.”
Each person has a scale of values from the least important to the most important. For Judas Iscariot, it was not his discipleship or relationship with Jesus that is most important. It was money. He was willing to trade his relationship with Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
Many of us have in one way or another experience betrayal. Some people we call friends and even close relatives have sold us for some reasons. It is a painful experience but it is also humbling one if we know how to handle it positively. Instead of making us bitter and full of hatred, we look up to Jesus who also experienced the same dastardly act.
“Surely Not I.” This was the common refrain of the apostles when Jesus opened up about the betrayal. Judas Iscariot joined the chorus perhaps to save face from his colleagues although he was already paid to do it. He was lying of course which means he just committed another layer of sin. This is what happens when people try to cover up their mistake. They lie to hide the truth.
There are many Judas Iscariots in the world today. Maybe we are one of them. We don’t just betray people. More often than not, it is Jesus that we betray. Each time we choose vice over virtue or when we trade our relationship with Jesus for business relationship, we betray our Lord.
May the gospel reading above bother our conscience and start to renew our relationship with the Holy Trinity.