“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” (Mt. 26:21)
For the second day in a row, we are encountering Judas the betrayer of Jesus. Yesterday we read from the Gospel of John and today we read from the Gospel of Matthew. As Holy Week reveals the Passover, the death, and resurrection of Jesus we can find a familiar theme: Love in the Midst of Duplicity.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God's law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart133 do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin.” (CCC 1859) With this in mind, one cannot help but wonder why Jesus would call someone into his inner circle of disciples knowing full well the gravity of Judas’ betrayal. Perhaps to fulfill Zechariah’s prophecy? Or perhaps to show us the depth of His love “that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Rom 5:8)
Even after baptism, even after receiving Christ in the Eucharist, because of the concupiscence of our flesh, we are capable of committing mortal sin. This is the duplicity of our life as followers of Christ. We are in the inner circle of Christ’s chosen yet still choose to betray him through our words and actions.
Does Jesus ever call you out and point at a sin that you knowingly hold close to you and your response is, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” (Mt. 26:25) As we enter the most solemn days of the Church, let us not receive His love in a state of duplicity. “Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the LORD, your God. For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and relenting in punishment.” (Joel 2:13)