Rejecting Empty Promises

March 31, 2021
Wednesday of Holy Week
Readings for Today

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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

The desire for money can become a powerful incentive to betray our Lord. In this Gospel passage, it seems clear that Judas’ betrayal was based on his desire for money. He most likely had some level of faith in our Lord, or he wouldn’t have become His disciple. But even if Judas did have some level of faith, his desire for money appeared to overshadow the faith he may have had.

One of the central lessons we can learn from Judas is that the desire for money is a powerful incentive for the decisions we make. So many of the great saints have taught us that the path to holiness consists, first, in a purification of all our disordered affections. And since one of the most powerful attachments that many struggle with is an attachment to money, this is an important desire to purify in all of our lives.

It’s true that material possessions are not evil when they are used for the fulfillment of God’s will. But the desire for more, for an excess, will always cloud our ability to see clearly the will of God and live for His glory alone.

Once Judas had betrayed our Lord and Jesus was arrested, recall that Judas “deeply regretted what he had done.” And during Jesus’ trial, Judas went back to the chief priests and said “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood” in an apparent attempt to stop the trial. But Jesus’ death was set in motion and could not be stopped. As a result, Judas returned the money and sadly went off to hang himself (See Matthew 27:3–5).

The desire Judas had for money clouded his thinking. And his sin did to him what sin always does. As soon as his sin of betrayal was done, Judas saw the consequences of that choice. And the consequences grieved him deeply. He learned that choosing sin ends with an empty promise. He realized that thirty pieces of silver was not worth the value of his soul. But of course, even then Judas could have repented and received the mercy of God. But he didn’t. He simply ended his life in ultimate despair.

Reflect, today, upon the witness of Judas. Use him as a source of meditation and self-examination this Holy Week. What is it in your life that you desire more than our Lord? What temptation clouds your thinking and leads you to choices that you know will end in emptiness? Strive to eradicate every disordered desire within you this day and choose wisely the will of God instead. Do not let yourself continue to believe the lies that keep you from making Jesus and His holy will the one and only focus of your life.

My divine Lord, You and You alone must become the focus of my life. You and You alone are of the greatest value in life. Help me to shed all earthly desires in life so that I will not fall into the temptations that lead to empty promises and so that I will embrace the true and fulfilling promises that come from You. Jesus, I trust in You.

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Featured image above: Judas Receiving Payment for his Betrayal By Giotto di Bondone