THURSDAY OF HOLY WEEK
Today the evil Sanhedrin has assembled against Christ and devised vain things against Him, plotting to deliver Him, though innocent, to Pilate to be put to death. Today Judas places round his neck the noose of money, and deprives himself of life both temporal and divine. Today Caiaphas prophesies against his will, saying: ‘It is expedient that one man should perish for the people.’ He came to suffer for our sins, that He might set us free from the bondage of the enemy: for He is good and loves mankind.
Today Judas lays aside his outward pretense of love for the poor, and openly displays his greed for money. No longer does he take thought for the needy. He offers now for sale, not the oil of myrrh brought by the sinful woman, but the Myrrh from heaven, and he takes the pieces of silver. He runs to the Jews and says to the transgressors: ‘What will ye give me if I deliver Him up to you?’ O avarice of the traitor! He reckons the sale profitable, and, agreeing with the wishes of the purchasers, he concludes the transaction. He does not dispute about the price but sells the Lord like a runaway slave; for it is the custom of thieves to throw away what is precious. So the disciple casts that which is holy to the dogs, and the madness of avarice fills him with fury against his own Master. Let us flee from such folly, and cry: O longsuffering Lord, glory to Thee.
Deceitful are thy ways, lawless Judas. Sick with the love of money, thou hast come to hate mankind. If thou lovest riches, why become disciple of Him who teaches poverty? But if thy love is for Him, why sell the Lord that is above all price and hand Him over to be murdered? Tremble, O sun; groan, earth, and quaking cry aloud: O long-suffering Lord, glory to Thee.
O ye faithful, let none who is uninstructed in the Mystery draw near to the table of the Lord’s Supper; let none approach deceitfully as Judas. He received his portion, yet he betrayed the Bread. In outward appearance he was a disciple, yet in reality he was present as a murderer. He rejoiced with the Jews, though he sat at supper with the apostles. He kissed in hatred, and with his kiss he sold the God and Saviour of our souls, who has redeemed us from the curse.
Instructing Thy disciples in the Mystery, O Lord, Thou hast taught them, saying: ‘My friends, take care that fear does not separate you from Me. For though I suffer, yet it is for the sake of the world. Do not be scandalized because of Me; for I have come not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give My life as a ransom for the world. If then ye are My friends, ye will do as I do. He who will be first, let him be the last; let the master be as the servant. Abide in Me, that ye may bear fruit: for I am the vine of Life.’