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Don’t Take the Morsel


“To me, the thing that is worse than death is betrayal. You see, I could conceive death, but I could not conceive betrayal.” ~ Malcolm X

As we were driving home from Daily Mass yesterday morning, my mother posed an interesting question, one that I am sure has been asked and pondered many times over the years: “Why would Jesus choose Judas Iscariot to be one of the Twelve Apostles?”

As you may recall, we first caught a glimpse into the depths of Judas’ depravity in yesterday’s Gospel (John 12:1-11) as he rebuked Mary of Bethany for lavishly anointing Jesus with aromatic perfumed oil made of genuine nard in what would be a foreshadowing of his death and burial

Mary of Bethany reminds us that our love for Jesus should be extravagant, unrelenting... reckless even. Judas was livid at this gesture, we come to find out, because he was skimming contributions from the money bag. 300 days wages worth of oil would’ve gone a long way in lining his pockets. His avarice would shortly be the cause of his eternal undoing, selling Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver. Yet Jesus, who is all knowing, chose him nonetheless to be one of his Apostles.

Fact is, the other 11 Apostles were sinners as well, something we all share in common with these young Jewish men who were chosen to be the first Christian Evangelists. Had Jesus sought to recruit only sinless men to be his Apostles, we would be talking not about the Twelve Apostles this Holy Week but instead the Zero Apostles; He would have found no one. And again, the same could be said about his search for modern day disciples, those who answer the call to work in his vineyard (Matthew 9:37).

Worthy? No. Chosen? You bet.

In today’s Gospel (John 13:21-33, 36-38), we revisit this most famous and notorious of betrayals, an inside job if you will, wherein Jesus is handed over by one of his own handpicked disciples. “Master, who is it?” a distressed Peter asks Jesus after our Lord informs his disciples that one of them will betray him. “It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it,” Jesus responds. After dipping the morsel he handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, who promptly and grimly took it. It’s interesting to read how Judas’ fellow Apostle John goes on to describe what happens next.

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After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him.”

Satan enters into us too whenever we commit sin. A few days ago I recalled the words of Bishop Barron, who calls sin a “kind of “nonbeing,“ an illusion. To live in sin is to live stubbornly in an unreal world. Our mind becomes confused and our will disoriented.” As the Father of Lies, Satan uses this confusion to his diabolical advantage, binding us to our sin before convincing us the situation is helpless.

Yes, he first sets out to convince us that our sin is not in reality sinful. After we stop fooling ourselves and/or listening to the lies and finally come to grips with the fact that what we are engaged in is fact disordered and sinful, he then goes feverishly to work convincing us that our sin of choice, whatever it may be, is unforgivable. This is why we must not even so much as flirt with sin or its master, the devil himself. This is why we “should have nothing to with the dragon” as Saint John Paul II would so often say. A firm and determined mindset to do better while fully understanding the ripple effects and consequences of sin, frequent trips to the confessional, daily Rosaries, quiet and contemplative time spent with the (real) Master in Eucharistic Adoration. These are but a few of the weapons at our disposal; God did not simply leave us unarmed and helplessly imperiled.

Judas’ betrayal of Jesus in today’s Gospel also reminds us of the times when we too were betrayed by a friend, family member or loved one. Perhaps your first experience with betrayal still resonates clearly in your memory. It’s a hard lesson that each of us must eventually learn the hard way: Sometimes the person you’d take a bullet for is standing behind the trigger. Swift forgiveness and an even swifter rejection of the disappointment is the best remedy in order to insure that no bitterness takes root, but it is ultimately through God’s grace, and only through God’s grace, that we can be healed.

As we wrap up our Lenten journey and prepare for the Easter Triduum, I ask you all to please keep those who are poised to enter into the fullness and richness of the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil Mass in your prayers. Let us also pray for our fallen away Catholics, many of whom are our close friends, loved ones and children. Some will be attending Mass on Easter Sunday. Let’s all pray that their attendance will serve as the catalyst to bring them back home.


Patrick44 (author) on April 07, 2021:

For the sake of those within earshot, I try to limit my singing strictly to the shower Char. Having said that though, I like the profound and wise lyrics of that song.

Char Milbrett from Minnesota on April 02, 2021:

I suppose you sang the song, "trust in the Lord, with all your heart and lean not unto thine own understanding" right after you pondered?

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