Voices ever ancient, ever new. Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion

“hen one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.” (Matthew 26:14-16)

Origen of Alexandria comments on this verse from the Gospel proclaimed at Mass today:

Judas means “confessor.” Luke the Evangelist numbers both “Judas the son of James and Judas Iscariot” among the twelve apostles. Since two of Christ’s disciples were given this same name and since there can be no meaningless symbol in the Christian mystery, I am convinced that the two Judases represent two distinct types of confessing Christians. The first, symbolized by Judas the son of James, perseveres in remaining faithful to Christ. The second type, however, after once believing and professing faith in Christ, then abandons him out of greed. He defects to the heretics and to the false priests of the Jews, that is, to counterfeit Christians, and (insofar as he is able) delivers Christ, the “Word of truth,” over to them to be crucified and destroyed. This type of Christian is represented by Judas Iscariot, who “went out to the chief priests” and agreed on a price for betraying Christ.

“Let us consider what Judas said to the Jewish priests: “What will you give me if I hand him over to you?” He was willing to take money in exchange for handing over the Word of God. They do the same thing who accept sensual or worldly goods in exchange for handing over and casting out from their souls the Savior and Word of truth who came to dwell with them. Indeed, it would be fitting to apply Judas’s example to all who show contempt for the Word of God and betray him, as it were, by committing sin for the sake of money or for any selfish motive. People who behave in this way appear openly to be calling out to the powers of the enemy who offer worldly gain in return for the sin of betraying God’s Word, saying, “What will you give me if I hand him over to you?”

“And they gave him thirty pieces of silver.” The number of coins they gave Judas was equivalent to the number of years the Savior had sojourned in this world. For at the age of thirty, he was baptized and began to preach the gospel, like Joseph was thirty years old when he began to gather grain for his brothers. Just as at that time the grain was prepared by God for the sons of Israel but given also to the Egyptians, so also the gospel was prepared for the saints but preached also to the unfaithful and wicked.” (Commentary on Matthew, 78)

Almighty ever-living God,
who as an example of humility
for the human race to follow
caused our Savior to take flesh
and submit to the Cross,
graciously grant that we may heed
His lesson of patient suffering
and so merit a share in his Resurrection.
Who lives and reigns with You
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Glory to You Father, Son and Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning is now
and will be forever. Amen!