Betrayed for a Paltry Sum
March 19 Wednesday of Holy Week
Readings: Is 50:4-9; Mt 26:14-25
Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, "What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you?" Mt 26:14-15
"In the past, this day was usually called Spy Wednesday," says Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR. "The name put quite a chill in me as a boy, because it was wartime and we were constantly reminded by signs that there could be spies around. We even knew people who had had Nazi sympathies before the war, and although they had publicly given them up, you 'never knew for sure.' "
Yesterday we had John's account of the betrayal. Today we hear from Matthew. In his account, we catch a glimpse of the betrayer Judas' heart. Judas asks the chief priests, "What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you?" Again, it's all about money. All about himself. It's disturbing, too, that the price the chief priests pay for Judas' betrayal is only 30 pieces of silver. The Scripture scholar John P. Meier says the amount is "actually a quotation from Zechariah 11:12, the payment for the rejected shepherd. Zechariah, in turn, is alluding to Exodus 21:32, where the price of 30 shekels of silver is the payment given in reparation to the master of a slave who [has been] gored by an ox."
But there's more. Meier continues, "In Zechariah, the amount is meant to be demeaning; it is a paltry sum. All the more would this be the case in Matthew, since 30 shekels were worth at the time of Jesus perhaps one-tenth of what they were worth when Exodus was written."
Paul's comments in Philippians on Jesus' humility are certainly poignant and relevant here: "[Christ] emptied Himself taking the form of a slave. ... He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross" (2:7-8).
Lord Jesus, although You are the Son of God, You willingly humbled Yourself for our sake. Give me the grace to follow Your example by walking humbly before You. Amen.
Diary of St. Faustina