Commentaries on Holy Week | Wednesday
Wednesday of Holy Week recalls the sad story of one who was an apostle of Christ, Judas. As St. Matthew tells us in his gospel: Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.
So that we realize that we all might behave as Judas did. So that we ask our Lord that, on our part, there be no treachery, nor distancing, nor abandonment. Not only because of the great harm this could bring to our personal lives, but because we could drag along others who need the help of our good example, of our support, of our friendship.
In some places in Latin America, the images of Christ crucified show a deep bruise on our Lord’s left cheek. People say this represents Judas’ kiss. So great is the pain that our sins cause Jesus. Let us tell him that we want to be faithful, that we don’t want to sell him, as Judas did, for thirty coins, for a trifle, for that’s what our sins are: pride, envy, impurity, hatred, resentment… When a temptation threatens to overwhelm us, let’s remember that it is not worthwhile to exchange the happiness of God’s children, which is what we are, for a pleasure that ends right away, leaving the bitter aftertaste of defeat and infidelity.
We have to feel on our shoulders the weight of the Church and of all humanity. Isn’t it marvelous to know that each of us can influence the whole world. In that place where we are, doing our work well, caring for our family, serving our friends, we can help make so many people happy. As St. Josemaria wrote, through the fulfillment of our duties, we Christians have to be like the stone fallen into the lake. With your word and your example you produce a first circle… and it another… and another, and another…Until you reach the furthest sites.
Let us ask our Lord that there be no more betrayals; that we learn, with his grace, how to reject the temptations that the devil presents us with, trying to trick us. We have to say no, firmly, to all that would separate us from God. Thus the sad story of Judas will not be repeated in our own lives.
SACRAMENT OF DIVINE MERCY
And if we feel ourselves weak, let us hurry to the holy Sacrament of Penance! There our Lord is waiting, like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, to give us an embrace and offer us his friendship. He is continually going forth to meet us, even if we have fallen low, very low. It’s always time to return to God! We should never react with discouragement or pessimism. Don’t think: What can I do, if I’m just a pile of wretchedness? God’s mercy is even greater. What can I do, if I fall again and again through my weakness? God’s power to lift us from our falls is even greater.
The sins of Judas and of Peter were great. Both of them betrayed the Master: one by handing him over to his persecutors, the other by denying him three times. And nevertheless, how differently each reacted. Our Lord longed to show mercy towards both. Peter repented; he wept over his sin, he asked for forgiveness, and Christ strengthened him in his faith and love. In time, he came to give his life for our Lord. But Judas failed to trust in Christ’s mercy. Up till the last moment, God held the doors of forgiveness open for him, but he didn’t want to enter them through penance.
MOMENT OF CONVERSION AND FORGIVENESS
In his first encyclical, John Paul II spoke of Christ’s “right to meet each one of us in that key moment in the soul’s life constituted by the moment of conversion and forgiveness” (Redemptor Hominis, 20). Let’s not deprive Jesus of that right! Let’s not take away from God the Father the joy of giving us a welcoming embrace! Let’s not sadden the Holy Spirit, who wants to give supernatural life back to souls!
Let’s ask Blessed Mary, the Hope of Christians, to prevent us from becoming discouraged on seeing our mistakes and sins, perhaps repeated ones. May she win for us from her Son the grace of conversion, an efficacious desire to go humbly and contritely to Confession, the sacrament of divine mercy, beginning and beginning again as often as necessary.
Commentaries on Holy Week were originally broadcast by the EWTN Radio Network (April 4-11, 2004). Reprinted here with permission.
Most Rev. Javier Echevarria was the second successor of St. Josemaria Escriva as head of Opus Dei from 1994-2016. He worked closely with St. Josemaria Escriva as his personal secretary from 1953 until St. Josemaria’s death in 1975. Bishop Echevarria was ordained as a priest on August 7, 1955. He was elected and appointed by John Paul II as prelate of Opus Dei on April 20, 1994. The Pope ordained him as a bishop on January 6, 1995. Bishop Echevarria died in Rome on December 12, 2016.