Today have an inside look into the moment of Judas’s betrayal, and an outside look on the revelation of his betrayal during Supper. We see, among the Apostles, one who sought to hand Jesus over, instead of handing Him on.
In this tragic moment Judas becomes, we could say, an “anti-apostle.” It was to the Apostles that Jesus entrusted the Gospel, the faith, and the traditions that would carry Christ to the edges of the world—Jesus entrusted His very self; all this Judas traded for thirty pieces of silver. The words “traitor” and “tradition” share the same Latin root, and the difference is subtle: “to hand over” versus “to hand on.” To discard, rather than to disperse, to reject, rather than embrace. Judas filled his heart with money and power, rather than allow Jesus to be his everything, as the other Apostles would do.
He thought he’d been discreet, meeting with the chief priests apart from his companions, but suddenly Judas realized Jesus knew; would he be exposed to the others? What would they do to him if they knew what he’d done?
Shocked, each apostle asks, “Is it me?”, and Jesus highlights the depth of the betrayal first by saying that it is one who has been sharing the meal with Him: it could be any one of them and, indeed, in a way, they would all betray Him. But Jesus goes on to say that the deepest betrayal would be so terrible, “it would be better for that man if he had never been born.” It was then that Judas, finally, asks the question, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
Jesus, in so many words, responds, “If it wasn’t you, you’d not have asked.”
Notice how Judas betrays himself. The others address Jesus as Lord, as the ruler of their hearts; Judas addresses Him as “rabbi,” as one rabbi among many, as a teacher or religious master, which is far short of “lord” or even Mary Magdalene’s joyful, “Rabbouni!” (John 20:16)
As we prepare to enter the holy days of the Triduum, we might reflect on the differences between Judas and the apostles, about our own desires for the treasures of this world and our desire for Jesus, about rejecting the gift of the Gospel or handing it on, about claiming Jesus simply as our teacher or as our Lord. When we come to the table at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, what do we bring Him in our heart?