First Reading: I will endure everything without complaining because I know with the sovereign Lord, I will not be disgraced or put to shame (Isa. 50:4-7). Second Reading: He humbled himself taking the form of a servant yet God did not abandon him (Phil. 2:6-8). Gospel Reading: The betrayal, trial, suffering, crucifixion, death and burial of Jesus, yet God did not abandon him (Matt. 26:14-27:66).
Judas, Peter and Others Looked Side Ways but Jesus never did.
The Jews have been plotting to arrest and kill Jesus. Judas made it easier for them. Hence he was paid 30 silver coins. As an insider, he knows the best opportunity to hand him over to them without much difficulty. Thus justifying the Igbo proverb that says, "Oma nkita na amanye ya aka n'onu." This plan was hatched and concluded in secret. The secrecy was just for mortals but not for God made man (Phil. 2:6). God knows the heart of every person hence the Igbo name, "Chimaobi". Nothing, therefore, escapes his grasps. Hence, Judas never knew that Jesus saw them and knew what he was paid so as to identify him as well as the sign he gave to them for his easy arrest. To buttress this point further, Jesus directed his disciples on how to approach a certain man who would eventually show them where to prepare for the Passover (Matt. 26:18) and everything was seen as Jesus directed. Again, during the Passover itself, he told them as God made man, "Truly, one of you will betray me" (Matt. 26:21) and even gave warning but as a result of the inability of Judas to see beyond the 30 silver coins he was to receive, he could not change his mind. Hence, Igbo says, "Onwu n'egbu nwa nkita adi ekwe ya anu ushi nsi." In the same vein, Peter and the rest of the disciples all abandoned Jesus when he needed them most (Matt 26:56b). Despite the fact that he warned them that they were going to abandon him, still they did. Peter who even told Christ, "even if these should abandon you, I will not abandon you." But when the time came, Peter denied him and followed him from a distance. Peter and the rest allowed themselves to be blinded by the desire to protect their lives here on earth and thus refusing to die with Christ. Even the soldiers and the crowd that came to arrest Jesus received their own lesson for them to repent and change their evil plan of arresting and killing him when he said, "all who draw the sword will die by the sword" (Matt. 26:52, 55). Yet, they went ahead to arrest and crucify him. Furthermore, when Pilate asked the crowd to make a choice between Jesus Christ and Barabbas (honesty and dishonesty), wickedness, jealousy and hatred blocked their views, hence they chose Barabbas (criminal, dishonesty) instead of Christ (Son of God). This is exactly what happens to us when sin comes knocking on our doors, we automatically turn deaf ears and refuse to see reason. Majority of us may think that Judas was very stupid to have heard all that and yet continued with his evil plans. Gubernatorial election is fast approaching in Anambra State, Very soon, politicians will start sharing money, food items, clothing, okadas, sewing machines, grinding machines, saloon materials to us. Most often these block our views, brains and stop us from hearing, and making value judgment hence mortgaging our future for a paltry sum or gift and thereby electing marauders and inconsequential elements. Do we not attend Sunday Masses and even morning masses and receive Holy Communion daily? Have we been able to stop the perpetuation of evil like bribery and corruption, adultery, fornication, exam malpractice, insincerity, stealing etc in the world? If we are baptized and still indulge in the above, we are not really different from Judas. Our consolation comes from the fact that Jesus understands human nature. Hence, anytime the evil that has been blocking our view leaves us and we turn back to him, he welcomes us back just as he did to Peter and the rest of the disciples.
Antidote to Temptation and Looking Sideways
On the night shortly before Jesus was betrayed, he instituted the Holy Eucharist (HE). The reception of the HE makes one to be incorporated in Christ, hence, anyone who receives it unworthily receives the reverse. That means, instead of the HE bringing the person closer to Christ, the person is made a stranger to Christianity, as in the case of Judas. Never follow Jesus from a distance just as Peter did (Matt 26:58). Never remove your eyes from Jesus. If you do, you will fall away as Peter did severally (Matt 14:30). Anytime you start missing your morning prayers, prayer before daily job, night prayer, regular morning masses, regular attendance to Sunday masses, daily reception of the Holy Communion, strict observance of the holy days of obligation, attendance to Sunday evening instruction then you are becoming a nominal Christian, thus, not a Christian as such. Anyone who is outside the community of believers is capable of doing anything. Peter never misbehaved in the midst of other apostles but outside the fold. He maintained a distance with Jesus to the extent of feeling that he was outside the view of Jesus, hence, he denied him three times. Thanks be to God that he later came back to his senses and wept bitterly (Matt 26:75) for that he was reincorporated. Let us remain focused on the Lord in faith through word, sacraments and devotions and not fall away from Him. Let us be faithful in celebrating His Passover for us.