Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant. One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side. So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, “Master, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.” So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him. So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him, “Buy what we need for the feast,” or to give something to the poor. So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.
When he had left, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.”
Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.” Peter said to him, “Master, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.”
John 13: 21-33, 36-38
St. John of the Cross
John of the Cross portrays the vice that brought about Judas’ downfall, avariciousness.
“The fourth degree of this privative harm is noted in the final statement of the text: and departed from God his Savior [Dt 32:15]. This is the degree into which the avaricious ones we just mentioned fall. Because of temporal goods, the avaricious do not concern themselves with setting their heart on God’s law, and consequently their will, memory, and intellect wander far from God and they forget him, as though he were not their God at all. The reason is that they have made gods for themselves out of money and temporal goods. St. Paul indicates this in declaring that avarice is a form of idolatry [Col. 3:5]. Those who are in this fourth degree forget God and deliberately turn their heart—which ought to be centered on him—to money, as though they had no other God” (A 3.19.8).
The betrayal of Jesus by Judas is a sobering memory for Christians. How could one who ate and drank with Jesus, saw his miracles, and ministered with or for him betray his Lord? The Gospel of John simply says that Judas did so for the love of money. St. John of the Cross writes that those who live to possess things are those who by degrees forget God and this is because they have made possessions their god.
During the Season of Lent we strive to overcome this vice of having and seeking possessions through the work of almsgiving. Through almsgiving, we create a balance against our desire to have and possess things. When we look at our acts of charity through almsgiving as though they were separated from other concerns they seem merely acts of simple charity; but as we can see in the example of Judas and in the teaching of John of the Cross these acts may have a much greater significance, they can save us from living as though Christ did not die and free us from our selfishness.
Lord, God, through the Season of Lent, you taught us to find our true treasure in Jesus your Son by the practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Grant, we ask, that, as we follow your Son throughout Holy Week, we may imitate his abandonment to you and not become seduced by the world’s goods as the apostle who betrayed him did. We ask this in Jesus’ your Son’s name. Amen.
Adapted from A Lenten Journey with Jesus Christ and St. John of the Cross by Fr. George Mangiaracina O.C.D.