Tag Archives: Spy Wednesday

Spy Wednesday

Judas kisses JesusWe call today Spy Wednesday (the Wednesday of Holy Week) because it is the day on which the gospel reading for Mass (Matthew 26:14-25) is the one which speaks of Judas Iscariot acts as a spy for the Sanhedrin. The act of spying earned Judas 30 pieces of silver and thus he betrayed Jesus.

Pope Benedict once said, “Judas is neither a master of evil nor the figure of a demoniacal power of darkness but rather a sycophant who bows down before the anonymous power of changing moods and current fashion. But it is precisely this  anonymous power that crucified Jesus, for it was anonymous voices that cried, “Away with him! Crucify him!”

In another place the emeritus Pope wrote:

“His second tragedy — after the betrayal — is that he can no longer believes in forgiveness. His remorse turns into despair. Now he sees only himself and his darkness; he no longer sees the light of Jesus, which can illumine and overcome the darkness. He shows us the wrong type of remorse: the type that is unable to hope, that sees only its own darkness, the type that is destructive and in no way authentic. Genuine remorse is marked by the certainty of hope born of faith in the superior power of the light that was made flesh in Jesus.” (Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week, 69)

Let us pray as Saint Paul said: “At the name of Jesus every knee should bend…to the glory of God the Father.”


Wednesday of Holy Week: Jesus at Bethany

at BethanyToday, the Latin Church has the gospel of Judas betraying Jesus (see previous post today) and the Byzantine Church will chant the story of Jesus being anointed at Bethany. For me, this is another aspect of the Mystery of the Incarnation.

Another theological way of discerning the meaning of today’s witness before the Lord is that the Church is asking us to attend anew to the interior life where we are asked to have a singularity in the way we live God’s grace: how well have we lived our vocation? The converse to this aspect of interiority is that you and I have a certain terror in being the only one responsible for persons and works. This flip side can lead us to the rejection of life in the Garden of Eden (paradise).

The Judas event and the Lord’s anointing at Bethany have different thrusts, but the emphasis is the same: love breaks the chain of sin and division. Perfect Love does so in supreme way in drawing our heart to a new level of awareness.

This poetic text sets the stage for us.

O Lord, the woman who had fallen into a multitude of sins,
recognized Your divinity and joined the ranks of the myrrh-bearings.
Before Your burial, she offers You myrrh with her tears.
“Alas,” she says, “the stinging night of pleasure seizes me;
the dark and moonless love of sin grasps me.
Accept the stream of my tears and my copious weeping,
for You make the waters fall from the clouds into the sea.
Incline Your ear to the cry of my heart,
for You incline the heavens in Your ineffable condescension.
Allow me to kiss Your most pure feet,
drying them with the locks of my hair;
for these are the feet that Eve heard in Paradise,
and, trembling at Their approach, she hid herself.
O Lord, who can search out the number of my sins?
Who shall search the depth of Your judgments,
O God our Redeemer and the Savior of our souls?
In Your infinite love, do not despise Your servant.”

Spy Wednesday

betrayal kiss judas jesusThe day before Holy Thursday is known by Catholics as Spy Wednesday. It is a day of profound aloneness. In the biblical and liturgical narrative of the Paschal Mystery we recall that the Apostle Judas played an essential part in our redemption, that sin and betrayal are at the heart of the Christian mystery of salvation just as grace, love and forgiveness.

The Biblical and theological roots of our faith gives us a striking opportunity to discern, to re-evaluate, re-direct our life. We call this the journey of conversion; we have the sacraments of Confession and Eucharist; we also have the tools of spiritual direction to see where God is leading us, or where we have not lived according to Catholic faith. This ability to think again, to have a metonoia, is a supreme grace because all of us have something of Judas in us.

How many of us think we are doing the right thing when in the final analysis our actions  were not. Judas’s betrayal of Jesus was in this category. The expectation Judas had hoped for was a Messiah who would liberate Israel from Roman rule thus creating a new Jerusalem, a new creation, a new people.  We know he was wrong, and that the devil presents bad things as good. The devil prevailed upon the freewill of Judas but twisting reality in his deception. The Apostle Judas failed to understand, as likely did the others, that Jesus wasn’t interested in earthly power.

The other important aspect of Judas and Spy Wednesday is our awareness of how evil works in the world. It is a reality and not fake. Evil has a real grip on our lives and can redirect our focus from God unto ourselves or materialistic tendencies that ultimately reject God. Pope Benedict spoke of a lack of awareness regarding evil when he said in one of his teachings, “Today there is a certain callousness of the soul towards the power of evil, an insensitivity to all the evil in the world: we do not want to be disturbed by these things, we want to forget, perhaps, we think, it is not important. It is not only insensitivity to evil, but also insensitivity to God.”

Spy Wednesday is an important day in our approach salvation. Hence, it cannot be treated as frivolous or disregard of the betrayal it points to. It is said that Saint Catherine of Siena worried about Judas’s fate but was told by the Lord that mercy was possible even for him.

Sometimes I am surprised how quickly we rush to rule the world with justice. Or, I should say some form of justice that is so harsh and decisive. I wonder if we are aware that our manner of being just is not God’s. For example, man and woman often determine who is and who is not in hell. Ours is a sentimental mercy. It is a common assessment that Judas is in hell. But, is this a matter of our business? Perhaps we ought to take Saint Catherine’s testimony as true. Biblical revelation tells us that only God determines the content of one’s heart. The Church’s teaching is that the Lord gave the power discern who is in communion, or not, with God (“the power of the keys”). I recall the famous line from Cardinal Avery Dulles who said we know hell exists but not the population of hell.

Today, Spy Wednesday, let us pray for those who have betrayed or been betrayed. As difficult as this is, praying for our enemies is exactly what Jesus would do. Let us pray for God’s mercy on Judas. Today, go to confession.

Spy Wednesday

Betrayal of Judas.jpg

Spy Wednesday, Wednesday in Holy Week, is unique as the sacred Liturgy prepares us to pray the sacred Triduum in a more devoted, sincere way. The gospel for today unfolds the drama. Hence, Spy Wednesday a pious way to commemorate and remind ourselves how, why and for what Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus for thirty pieces of silver is a learning experience for each of us. The betrayal of Jesus by Judas –a friend of the Lord’s, a member of the 12 Apostles, a man responsibility– continues until today to make us pause and to ask what happened; Judas’ tortured ending grieve us.

The mystery of the dramatic events concerning Judas and Jesus shows us the value God places on the gift of free will. The sinfulness of some of our choices are too often motivated by money, power, and fame, the desire to be right on everything, to point fingers without looking deeply within our selves. Consider the various things Pope Francis has said since his election about the devil and his enticements.  In the Liturgy we pray for the grace to have the power of the enemy  driven from us thus attaining the grace of the resurrection.

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Spy Wednesday: dancing with the devil?

Last supper detail Duccio.jpgHere we are: Spy Wednesday, the eve of the sacred Triduum. Lent is about to end and we’re entering into a liturgical period and facing the Paschal Mystery of Christ. The term “Spy Wednesday” is not heard often these but we get the point: the struggle between life and death, sin and grace, friendship and betrayal, good and evil.

Jesus shares the Passover meal his closest collaborators, he was having “Communio” with his friends and not strangers and one among them has already set in motion the process of betrayal. The intimacy once shared vigorously is now betrayed; it is one of the most terrible experiences any person can live through.
Spy Wednesday is not a day to point the finger at someone else’s problem. It’s a day to examine the soul to understand the ways we’ve betrayed Christ in simple and also likely profound ways. There is portion of Judas in all of us. While we may not have used 30 pieces of silver but perhaps we’ve opened the door to evil.
How different are you going to live today?

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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