In today’s Gospel from the Mass (Matt 26:14-25), Judas Iscariot, on his own initiative, goes to the chief priests of the Jews and asks, “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?”. They give Judas 30 pieces of silver.
All things in the life of Christ work together to explain His Gracious love for us, sometimes in mysterious ways. Consider:
- 30 pieces of silver is the price of a slave (Exod 21:32). The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is foretold by Isaiah in the Suffering Servant passages (Isaiah 53), written 700 years before Christ’s Passion.
- Christ also will lower Himself like a slave, washing the feet of the disciples to demonstrate that they too must become slaves (John 13:1-20).
- Interestingly, 30 pieces of silver is also the wage of a shepherd (Zech 11:13) in Zechariah’s chilling prophecy of Passion Week (Zech 9-14), written some 500 years before the Passion of the Christ.
- Christ’s teachings are full of allusions to shepherds and sheep: As the Good Shepherd (John 10:1-21) Jesus describes how He will lay down His life for His sheep.
- 30 silver pieces is 120 denarii, the wages a labor would receive for about 4 months work; a relatively paltry sum for delivering so great a prize.
When we dig below the details of the Gospels, we become more and more amazed. Over and over the New Testament is prefigured in the Old. This should not be surprising, for both are the work of the same Word, our Lord Jesus Christ.
We are guided by the Church to read the Scriptures with a moral sense (CCC 117), which means that the Scriptures should instruct us to act morally.
This passage is ripe for personal reflection: Have I sold Jesus out? Perhaps by avoiding speaking the truth of Christ for fear of being ridiculed. Perhaps for the pleasure of indulging in a sin that Christ has warned is mortal to our soul? What is the value of what I have gained for betraying Jesus? “Friends” who are not worthy of Christ for they reject His teaching? Admiration by “progressives” who hate Jesus or wish Him to be what He is not? Moments of idle pleasure instead of spending time in prayer and Adoration?
All of us have a measure of Judas within us, for each sins. Now is the time to turn from our personal “30 pieces of silver” and pray for forgiveness and new life in Christ.