April 8, 2020
In today’s Gospel passage from Matthew 26:14-25, we hear that Jesus called out Judas Iscariot, who would betray him. Previously, the disciples had followed Jesus closely, seeming to hang on every word he uttered, trying to piece together the meaning of who their friend was, and what he was teaching. They dutifully prepared the Passover meal in a house, designated by the Master himself. While at table together, Jesus told them that “one of you will betray me… he who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one…” One by one, the disciples responded with disbelief. Until it was Judas Iscariot’s turn: “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” repeating what his fellow disciples were asking. But, this time, to this unfortunate soul, Jesus answered, “You have said so.”
The rest of the story is familiar. Judas betrays his friend, leading both to death: by suicide for Judas, and by crucifixion for Jesus. What a bitter story! What a bitter lot are we humans, professing loyalty, then turning on a dime or thirty pieces of silver, to be precise! Judas has dipped his hand into the dish of bitterness. In the Gospel of John 13:26-27, Jesus answers the beloved disciple’s question about who the betrayer is: “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.” He hands the morsel to Judas. Have you ever wondered what the “morsel” is? It makes sense that the morsel is the bitter herb, dipped in salt water at the Passover meal. A sprig of parsley is commonly used in modern time, the bitter herb representing the humble origins of the Jewish people, and the salt water, the tears as a result from years in slavery. Bitter indeed!
So, this Wednesday of Holy Week, what bitterness do we bring to dip into our tears? This particular Lenten journey has been complicated by the Coronavirus pandemic, causing us to self-isolate, wear face masks, wonder what we are doing right and what may need revision, and ponder, really, the meaning of our lives. As we follow Jesus to the cross in 2 days, let’s bring our bitterness for Him to embrace, and allow our teary eyes to see Him return our gaze with love. Only love. For that is Who He is.