Friday, April 12, 2024

HOLY WEEK: A Word on America’s Own Betrayal on Spy Wednesday

Today is Holy Wednesday, historically referred to in the Western Church as Spy Wednesday. It is a direct rebuke of Judas Iscariot, the great betrayer, the one who ensnared Christ the Lord, his friend and master.

At the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), the Gospel of Luke is appointed, specifically Ch 22:39-71 and 23:1-53. This account of Christ’s Passion includes Judas’s handing of Jesus over to the authorities at Gethsemane. In the Byzantine Rite, Judas’s betrayal is recounted as well, but the account comes from Matthew Ch 26:6-16 at the evening Presanctified Liturgy of Pope St. Gregory the Great.

America is in great need of repentance, not only in our government branches and institutions, but by We the People ourselves. Too often we get caught up in a degree of blaming that creates a false impunity inside ourselves (guilty!). Government without God will always turn corrupt. Always. Equally so, the People. And when the People turn their backs on God with addictions and glorifications of this material-, entertainment-, pleasure-driven world, we become a mob not unlike that which yelled for the release of Barabbas the murderer and for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, the innocent Lamb of God.

Personal awakening continues and will continue to emerge as we learn the diabolical truth on all those celebrities we have status-worshipped for decades while we’ve given God Almighty only the occasional passing glance. We’ll listen to degenerate music and movies over and over again, yet have the audacity to quote Scripture and speak against “vain repetition” when it’s time to justify and excuse our lack of devotion to prayer. We are hypocrites, all, myself included.

Now is the time to admit these things to ourselves, when the mercy and grace of God is about to be at its greatest two days from now. We as Christians move into the holiest days of the holiest week of the year, and it would help us all–not to mention combat our tyrannical government and entertainment industry–to reflect seriously on these things. How have we been spending our time this week so far? Has it been to grow our own holiness and relationship with the Crucified Savior? I for one have been mercifully enlightened on, at least to some degree, the awful spiritual posture of my past, where even my “best Lents” and “best Holy Weeks” still involved far too much pleasure and gain. And that is to say nothing of those days and nights when I openly sinned just because I believed I could hide behind the veil of foolish youth.

Foolish I have been indeed, and the ruse was on me. God shall not be mocked. Such youthful presumption of God’s mercy has come back around years later to hit me hard in the heart and soul. There is no suffering greater perhaps than the merciful sting of God’s arrow when he strikes your heart with memory.

In a word, or two, I have been Judas Iscariot. And I ask you reader to consider where it is in your life that you can help shift the mob of America from shouting for Barabbas, and instead shouting for Christ the Lord. I don’t know any of you, and yet we need each other, now more than ever, if we are to give God his just due and fight the evil that surrounds us.

The following text is a collection of excerpts from one of St. John Chrysostom’s dozens of homilies on Matthew:

Then went one of the twelve, he that was called Judas Iscariot, unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will you give me, and I will deliver Him unto you?

Then. When? When these things were spoken, when He had said, it is for my burial, and not even thereby was he moved to compunction, neither when he heard that the Gospel should be preached everywhere did he fear (and yet it was the language of unspeakable power), but when women showed so much honor, and women that had been harlots, then he wrought the devil’s works.

So great an evil is covetousness, this made him both a traitor, and a sacrilegious robber. Hearken, all you covetous, you that have the disease of Judas; hearken, and beware of the calamity. For if he that was with Christ, and wrought signs, and had the benefit of so much instruction, because he was not freed from the disease, was sunk into such a gulf; how much more shall you, who do not so much as listen to the Scripture, who are constantly riveted to the things present, become an easy prey to this calamity, unless you have the advantage of constant care.

Every day was that man with Him, who had not where to lay His head, and every day was he instructed by deeds, and by words, not to have gold, nor silver, nor two coats; and yet he was not taught self-restraint; and how do you expect to escape the disease, if you have not the benefit of earnest attention, and dost not use much diligence? For terrible, terrible is the monster, yet nevertheless, if you be willing, you will easily get the better of him. For the desire is not natural; and this is manifest from them that are free from it. For natural things are common to all; but this desire has its origin from remissness alone; hence it takes its birth, hence it derives its increase, and when it has seized upon those who look greedily after it, it makes them live contrary to nature. For when they regard not their fellow countrymen, their friends, their brethren, in a word all men, and with these even themselves, this is to live against nature.

Whence it is evident that the vice and disease of covetousness, wherein Judas, being entangled, became a traitor, is contrary to nature. And how did he become such a one, you may say, having been called by Christ? Because God’s call is not compulsory, neither does it force the will of them who are not minded to choose virtue, but admonishes indeed, and advises, and does and manages all things, so as to persuade men to become good; but if some endure not, it does not compel. But if you would learn from what cause he became such as he was, you will find him to have been ruined by covetousness.

And how was he taken by this calamity? One may say. Because he grew remiss. For hence arise such changes, as on the other hand, those for the better from diligence. How many for instance that were violent, are now more gentle than lambs? How many lascivious persons have become afterwards continent? How many, heretofore covetous, yet now have cast away even their own possessions? And the contrary again has been the result of remissness…

And all these things have I said, to show that if we be vigilant, no one shall harm us; and that the harm arises not from poverty but from ourselves. Wherefore I beseech you with all diligence to put away the pest of covetousness, that we may both be wealthy here, and enjoy the good things eternal, unto which God grant we may all attain, by the grace and love towards man of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory world without end. Amen.

-St John Chrysostom (347-407). St John’s feast day on the pre-1969 calendar in the West is my birthday, January 27.


HOLY WEEK: This Kind Is Not Cast Out But By Prayer and Fasting