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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Wednesday of Holy Week
1st Reading (Isa 50:4-9a): The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear. And I have not rebelled, have not turned back. 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 Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame. He is near who upholds my right; if anyone wishes to oppose me, let us appear together. Who disputes my right? Let him confront me. See, the Lord God is my help; who will prove me wrong?
Responsorial Psalm: 68
R/. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
For your sake I bear insult, and shame covers my face. I have become an outcast to my brothers, a stranger to my mother's sons, because the zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.

Insult has broken my heart, and I am weak, I looked for sympathy, but there was none; for consolers, not one could I find. Rather they put gall in my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.

I will praise the name of God in song, and I will glorify him with thanksgiving: «See, you lowly ones, and be glad; you who seek God, may your hearts revive! For the Lord hears the poor, and his own who are in bonds he spurns not».
Versicle before the Gospel (---): Hail to you, our King; you alone are compassionate with our errors.
Gospel text (Mt 26:14-25): One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

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?” 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.”’” The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover.

When it was evening, he reclined at table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, “Surely it is not I, Lord?” He said in reply, “He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me. 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.” Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” He answered, “You have said so.”

“Surely it is not I?”

Fr. Higinio Rafael ROSOLEN IVE (Cobourg, Ontario, Canada)

Today, the Gospel presents us with three scenes: the betrayal of Judas, the preparations to celebrate the Passover and the Supper with the Twelve.

The word “deliver” (“paradidōmi” in Greek) is repeated six times and serves as a link between these three moments: (i) when Judas delivers Jesus; (ii) Passover, which is a figure of the sacrifice of the cross, where Jesus gives His life; and (iii) the Last Supper, in which the delivery of Jesus is manifested, which will be fulfilled on the Cross.

We want to stop here at the Paschal Supper, where Jesus Christ manifests that His body will be given and His blood shed. His words: “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me” (Mt 26:20) invite each of the Twelve, and especially Judas, to an examination of conscience. These words are extended to all of us, who have also been called by Jesus. They are an invitation to reflect on our actions, be they good or bad; our dignity; to ask ourselves what we are doing at this moment with our lives; where we are going and how we have responded to the call of Jesus. We must answer ourselves with sincerity, humility and frankness.

Let us remember that we can hide our sins from other people, but we cannot hide them from God, who sees in secret. Jesus, true God and man, sees and knows everything. He knows what is in our hearts and what we are capable of. Nothing is hidden from His eyes. Let us avoid deceiving ourselves, and it is only after we have been sincere with ourselves that we should look to Christ and ask Him, "Surely it is not I?" (Mt 26:22). Let us bear in mind what Pope Francis says: "Jesus loving us, invites us to allow ourselves to be reconciled with God and to return to Him to rediscover ourselves."

Let us look at Jesus, listen to His words and ask for the grace to deliver ourselves by uniting ourselves to His sacrifice on the Cross.

Thoughts on Today's Gospel

  • “Blessed be thou, my Lord Jesus Christ, who didst foretell thy death before the time, and in the last supper didst wonderfully consecrate thy precious body of material bread, and also charitably gave it to thy Apostles, in memory of thy most worthy passion, and by washing their feet with thy sacred and precious hand, didst humbly show thy very great humility.” (Saint Bridget)

  • “What we shall be commemorating in the coming days is the supreme battle between Light and Darkness. We must also put ourselves in this context aware of our own ‘night’, of our sins and our responsibility if we want to benefit spiritually from the Paschal Mystery.” (Benedict XVI)

  • “Jesus chose the time of Passover to fulfill what he had announced at Capernaum: giving his disciples his Body and his Blood.” (Catechism Of The Catholic Church, Nº 1339)

Other comments

“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”

Fr. Raimondo M. SORGIA Mannai OP (San Domenico di Fiesole, Florencia, Italy)

Today, the Gospel proposes us —at least— three considerations. The first one is that, when our love for God cools off, then our will yields to other temptations, where voluptuousness seems to offer us more tasty dishes while, in fact, they are prepared with degrading and disturbing poisons. Given our congenital fragility, we should not allow the fire of our fervor to cool down, fervor which if not sensibly, at least mentally, links us to him, who has loved us to the point of giving his life for us.

The second consideration refers to the mysterious election of the place where Jesus wants to celebrate His Paschal Supper. «Go into the city, to the house of 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.’” (Mt 26:18). Maybe, the master of the house was not one of our Lord's confirmed friends, but he must have had a very good ear to be able to listen to his “inside” calls. Our Lord would have spoken to him intimately —as He so often does with us—, throughout a thousand incentives, so that he would open his door. His imagination and omnipotence, which support his infinite love for us, have no limits and express themselves in ways always apt to every personal situation. When we hear his call we have to “surrender”, by leaving aside all sophisms and by happily accepting this “liberator messenger”. It is just as if someone would come to our prison door and would invite us, as the Angel did with Peter, by saying: “Get up quickly.” (Acts 12:7).

The traitor who is trying to conceal his crime before the Omniscient keen stare offers the third motive of meditation to us. Adam had already tried it, and later on, Cain his son, too, but both to no avail. Before becoming our most exacting Judge, God appears before us as a father and a mother, who do not surrender to the idea of losing their son. Jesus' heart suffers not so much because of the betrayal as it does with the realization that a son is irretrievably going astray from him.