Be Attentive

Today is “Spy Wednesday,” the day that Judas betrayed Our Lord. Our First Reading and Psalm speak eloquently of the Suffering Servant of God, the Messiah, who will come to save His people from their sins. He will bear beatings, insults, and ultimately death, but will do so willingly, ready to accept anything to accomplish the will of the Father. We have been hearing these prophecies from Isaiah all week, and we will continue to hear them through Good Friday.

It is good to reflect on just how humble and confident the Lord must have been to allow Himself to be betrayed, beaten, abused, insulted, stripped, and killed so mercilessly. Today, however, I want to focus on Judas Iscariot. Why would he betray Our Lord? This is a good question on its own, but for Judas it is all the more baffling. Why would he betray Jesus Christ, whom he walked with for years and saw as a friend and master?

Judas was a Zealot, a member of a radical Jewish sect that sought to overthrow the Roman government and encourage the Messiah to come forward and lead the insurrection in the process. Many Jews thought that the Messiah would hold secular political power. The Zealots thought that they could help the Messiah achieve victory. Iscariot, Judas’ surname, gives away his Zealot sympathies. This is a title meaning “dagger man,” referring to the Zealots who would carry daggers at all times.

Over the course of Jesus’ ministry, it’s likely that Judas became disillusioned. Somewhere along the line, it became obvious to him that Jesus did not want political authority, at least not in the sense that many of the Jews thought that the Messiah would. He did come to rule and to lead, but in a very unexpected way. Judas may have hung around because of Jesus’ holiness, or simply because he wanted to get back at Him later. Either way, he remained until his betrayal, the fatal move.

Judas’ betrayal was a result of his failure to pay attention to Our Lord. He expected one Messiah, got another, and couldn’t stop and consider that he might be the misguided one. Later on, he understood his error, but was too crestfallen to make amends. Instead, he took his own life, crushed by the weight of his sin.

Job presents another way for us. He too had a misguided view of God. Though he was always righteous, unlike the sin-prone Judas, he too thought that God was different than in reality. Job, afflicted by Satan, expected the Lord to give him a comprehensive explanation. Instead, the Lord says that Job simply can’t understand: “Who is this that darkens counsel with words of ignorance? Gird up your loins now, like a man; I will question you, and you tell me the answers!” (Job 38:2–3).

In the end, Job repents in dust and ashes, admitting that God’s ways are unfathomable. He was attentive, and by listening understood that the Lord’s ways are greater, much more marvelous than his. He allowed God to change his perspective in a radical way, and humbly accepted the consequences. Let us do the same this Triduum, attending to the Lord and allowing Him to transform our lives, even if it means giving up what we might want from Him. On Good Friday and beyond, we will see Him surpass even our wildest expectations, giving the ultimate explanation for suffering.

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David Dashiell is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader based in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. His writing has been featured in Crisis Magazine and The Imaginative Conservative, and his editing is done for a variety of publishers, such as Sophia Institute and Scepter. He can be reached at

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