Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he began to look for an opportunity to betray him.
On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’”
So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.
The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Jesus gathers his disciples into the intimacy of the Passover meal, one of the most joyous and celebratory festivals of the Jewish religion. Jesus does with his last night on earth what he has done throughout his entire ministry; he calls people into close and loving relationship with him through the act of table fellowship.
The passage cuts to the heart of the reader with its dramatic irony. To eat off of the same dish with someone was against the purity laws that governed Jewish customs centered around the intimate act of eating. It was Jesus’ radical breaking of these same laws that so upset and threatened the Pharisees that they sought a way to bring his ministry to an end.
It is through this radical act of sharing food in an intimate way that Jesus brings his followers together in relationship to him throughout the Gospels. And, it is in the same act which Jesus’ betrayer becomes known. In the Eucharist, Jesus offers himself to us as the bread of life. Have we, like Judas, failed to live out the fullness of life and love that Jesus invites us to?
—Tom Weiler is a teacher in the department of Religious Studies and the moderator of Club Vinyl at Saint Ignatius College Prep in Chicago.
In the breaking of the bread
We have known him; we have been fed.
Jesus the stranger, Jesus the Lord,
Be our companion, be our hope.
Bread for the journey, strength for our years,
Manna of ages, of struggle and tears.
Cup of salvation, fruit of the land,
Bless and receive now the work of our hands.
—In the Breaking of the Bread, text by Bob Hurd and Michael Downey, © 1987 OCP Publications
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