“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
Wednesday of Holy Week – Matthew 26:25
“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
Additional Reading(s) today: Is 50:4-9; Matt 26:14-25
Today’s Lenten Reflection
The darkness is growing deeper and more ominous as we move closer to Calvary. Today is known as “Spy Wednesday,” so named for Judas’s role as the betrayer, the one who would trade his Savior’s life for thirty pieces of silver. The sadness is palpable as we enter into today’s Gospel scene where, after Jesus tells the apostles that someone near will soon betray Him, Judas says without irony or self-awareness, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” How often have we said the same — Surely it is not I! — when in reality it was? How often have we pridefully made excuses for our bad behavior, unwilling to take blame for the wrong we’ve done? It is easy to point the finger elsewhere, but even the smallest acts of arrogance grieves our Spirit and eats at our soul like moths feasting on a sweater. Today’s first reading in Isaiah cuts off the final phrase of that verse, in which Isaiah uses this image powerfully. He reminds us that, in the end, it is the Lord (and only the Lord) who saves. Those who choose to attack and grieve Him will eventually “wear out like a garment … [and be] consumed by moths” (Is 50:9b). We often like to envision ourselves as the one being spat at and then triumphantly saved by the Lord. But what if we are the ones grieving Him? What if we are the ones being worn out like cloth, chewed up by “moths” of greed, jealousy, anger, hatred, resentment, blasphemy, idolatry, or any other silent-but-deadly pest that has snuck in?
If you have ever headed to your front door late at night, you have probably experienced a flurry of moths circling the porch light. Today, imagine those moths as distractions and temptations buzzing around your spiritual life. What are they? Are you frantically swinging at them or are you scooping them up and sending them on their way? The only way for us to get from Point A to the rightful Point B, from glory to glory, is through prayer — particularly silent prayer. “What does silence accomplish in us?” asks Paula Huston in Simplifying the soul. “It swings our spiritual gyroscope back to home point. It teaches us to recollect our anxious minds, to surrender our need for absolute control, and to expand our narrow vision.” In silence moreover, we are able to hear the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit who descends as quiet and as gentle as a dove. Go to your sacred space today and simply sit and be. Listen. If the moths come to distract and tempt you, ignore them. So long as you stay focused on the the Lord, in time, they will fly away. If you find time to sit in silence daily with the Lord, even if only for a few minutes, rest assured you will not wear out. Instead, your faith will be strengthened, hope will be renewed, and you will regularly hear the gentle whisper of the Lord reminding you that He is with you, He will help you, and you have nothing to fear.
Lord, our God whom we love so much, we desire above all to hear the gentle whisper of Your voice today. Help us to quiet ourselves so that we can hear Your will for our lives in the silence of our hearts. In a sacred space, help us to open up to You in prayer so that we are not shaken or thrown off course by the temptations and challenges of this life. Above all, Father, may we never betray Your mercy. Your Son went to His death to give Himself fully to us. Help us to hand ourselves fully over to Him. Amen.
Today’s suggested penance
*Give alms to a needy person or cause today.
“You are good and all-powerful, caring for each one of us as though the only one in your care” –Saint Augustine.