Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.This morning's Gospel takes us to a pivotal moment, an inexorable point events are locked in, and destinies become fixed:
After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit, and testified, "Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me." The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he spoke. One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was reclining at table at Jesus' side, so Simon Peter motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So that disciple, leaning back against Jesus, said to him, "Lord, who is it?" Jesus answered, "It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it." So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, "What you are going to do, do quickly." Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the moneybag, Jesus was telling him, "Buy what we need for the feast," or that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the morsel of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. When he had gone out, 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 glorify him at once. John 13:21-32 (ESV)From the moment of the fall, when the works of the flesh supplanted the fruits of the Spirit, treachery became a stain on humanity. Treachery, in its most basic, is defined as a violation of allegiance, or of faith and confidence by Webster. It is carried out in shadows. It occurs through the furtive actions of cowards unable to face the recipients of their actions. In Dante's Inferno, the deepest depths of Hell were reserved for history's worst traitors. But at this moment, this man remembered in infamy is seated at the same table with the Christ of God.
A deep scene is unfolding as Saint John, the beloved disciple of God, hears his Master uncover the conspiracy. Ten of the Apostles are instantly thrown into a tangle of anxiety while the eleventh was now doubtlessly experiencing a surge of fear and adrenaline as his plan is unmasked and exposed to all. Even the youngest of the band was now in a moment of self-examination. Jesus would answer all of their questions in a moment.
The sop, a piece of the hard unleavened bread made soft by wine perhaps, was handed to the man from Kerioth. In the unseen realm of this moment, the sop hit Judas' hand with all of the force of a firing pin striking a primer cap. The Holy Spirit which had once rested upon this man was gone, and Lucifer himself entered him. At once, any fellowship he may have enjoyed with The Christ was irrevocably severed. He was now compelled by the command of God to depart and set his plan into motion.
Many have offered up theories as to why. Judas did as he did. I've no intention of doing that in this space.Yet it is important to remember that there would be two betrayals over the next several hours. Each would have completely different outcomes.
Lent, and Holy Week, compel us to look deep into the mirror. It demands that we too ask, "Is it me Lord?"