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Diary of the ghetto priest | Judas Iscariot and 30 pieces of silver

Published:Friday | April 14, 2017 | 12:00 AMFather Richard Ho Lung

Not everything from the heart is good, that instrument of good, the heart can lead us astray. Not everything from the mind is either, what is from the mind must be tested before the idea is put into practice.

Judas Iscariot makes us shudder with his mind for making money, he would be a financial genius, a brilliant entrepreneurs: “How much will you give me if I hand him over to you?” The chief priests and elderly promised to give 30 pieces of silver, and from then on, Judas kept looking for the best way to hand Jesus over to them. Judas wanted to trick and trap Jesus, without seeming like an enemy, and pass Jesus over to the chief priest and Pharisees to do whatever they wanted to do. Judas loved Jesus with his whole mind, but Jesus was not useful to Judas in the long run. He wanted Christ to be a worldly king, a political king who would live by the sword, battle others for their land and other possessions and seize Israelites kingdom and other kingdoms. The 30 pieces of silver was symbolic of all this – power and wealth!

Judas betrayed Jesus. He greeted Jesus with a kiss, He dipped his finger in the same bowl of water to cleanse himself, he ate the morsel of bread Jesus gave him, reminiscent of the Eucharist, a sign of friendship and deep participation in the life of Jesus. He was even warned by Jesus at the last supper, “Truly I say to you, one of you will betray me.” Judas, who would betray him, “You do not mean me, Master, do you?” And Jesus replied “You have said it,” and, still, Judas betrayed Him, with a kiss, a deep sign of friendship and affection.

Despite it all. And, despite Jesus knowledge of great deceit and betrayal, Jesus received his love and affection warmly. I believe that Judas wanted to be faithful to Him, but he had no faith in the kingdom, the spiritual kingdom of the Lord. He was driven by his passion for the world and money. It made him blind to the love of the Lord, to a world that the soul yearns for – a spiritual kingdom in this world and the next to come.

It is so hard to believe in the soul, and the soul’s yearning for Jesus, who was crucified, who overcome the world and all its glamour and pleasures. Rejecting the temptations for bread, for the worldly possessions, and, man’s desire for exaltation and praise is not easy! We are encased in flesh and all the passion of the flesh. We can be deceived and deceive! We must be careful of being deceived and deceiving others. Each day we need to meditate and guard ourselves against the temptations of the flesh.

Judas begged the chief priest and elders to take back the 30 pieces of silver, but to free Jesus. But they did not. Judas threw away the 30 pieces of silver, called blood money, and hanged himself! It was too late!

At this point, I offer a prayer: “Heavenly Father, guard us in our daily lives, save us from deception, the deception of the world, the deception of even our friends. Lord, you know that we love you! We love you, truly love, more than the world, more than our friends who can wittingly and unwittingly deceive us. Lord, my flesh, my flesh, now it cries out for the world, the pleasures, the honor and the glory! Save us Lord! Teach us Lord! – To love you, glorify you alone. Lead us not into temptation Lord, but deliver us from evil. May the example of Judas remind us of the great tragedy of man, and, the deception of the human heart.

Then there is Peter our great leader, the first Pope of the Church. Peter was the first to follow Christ, Peter said “I will follow you, wherever you go”; when Jesus said “The foxes has holes and the birds have nests; but the son of man has nowhere,” Peter continued. Then Peter was appointed the trusted leader for the future offer his confession “You are the son of God.” And when he pointed to the Eucharist, the broken and wounded flesh of Jesus and said “Unless you eat of my flesh and drink of my blood, you cannot have eternal life” – referring to His death and our participation in Hid death, many turned away but Christ asked Peter “ Will you also turn away?” Peter answered “Where shall we go Lord, you have the word of eternal life.”

Peter would run away in fear when Jesus is about to shed His blood, and, he had to face the sword and lashes of Jesus. He simply, lacked courage to face up to his possible crucifixion and death. But he denied his friendship with Jesus and ran away. But he did not betray Jesus – and came back to Him, with the other disciples, feeling emptiness, fears and guilt, and wanting to be with Him again!

The human heart.  The human heart, how devious is the human heart! Jeremiah 17: 9-10 says, “More tortuous than all else is the human heart, beyond remedy; who can understand it? I, the Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart, To reward everyone according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds.” How pitiable we are without the Lord!

I pray again, “Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.” Let us remember our sins on Good Friday, let us beg God to forgive our sins. Indeed we are not worthy of the Lord’s love.