*chugs espresso, slams down coffee cup*
Welcome to the Hump Day of all Hump Days. Today, as you know, is Wednesday of Holy Week. But we don’t just call today, “Wednesday of Holy Week.” The Catholic Church is too adept at nomenclature to settle for such a boring title. No, today is Spy Wednesday.
As fun as the name is, it’s also heartrending. Today, our Gospel tells of Judas’ furtive journey to the Pharisees and his schemes to betray Jesus. The human condition is on ugly display today as we witness the seduction of material wealth, a greed that we have all fallen prey to in some shape or form. We weep over the fickleness of friendship and gasp in horror at the atrocity that the demon of betrayal truly is. Today, our hearts must be convicted of our own stupidity when it comes to matters of the heart and worship. We too have been spies with Judas, willing to tear others down to reach happiness, and perhaps even willing to deny Christ, so long as that denial secures our own comfort and satisfaction.
But Judas is not the only spy at work on this Wednesday. It would be dangerous for us to only focus on Satan’s active role in humanity, lest we become overwhelmed by the filth experienced in the common human experience. Yes, the Deceiver is well aware of human weakness and is a master at exploiting our sickness for his own wily gain. But nobody knows the human heart better than the Son of God. In today’s Gospel He is the ultimate spy, as we read:
The disciples approached Jesus and said,Matthew 26:17-19
“Where do you want us to prepare
for you to eat the Passover?”
“Go into the city to a certain man and tell him,
‘The teacher says, My appointed time draws near;
in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.”‘“
The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered,
and prepared the Passover.
We should be taken aback by the cryptic nature of Jesus’ instructions. Ok, maybe we shouldn’t be that shocked, because Jesus can be confusing at times. But the disciples have asked for a one word answer to a simple, geographic question, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover?” Rather than reply as they expect Him to, Jesus responds with these lengthy instructions to find a certain, unnamed man at a certain, unnamed house. In Mark’s account of the Gospel (The one read on Palm Sunday this year), we are told that Jesus only sends two disciples away with these instructions. Why all this secrecy?
The answer is simple and yet one that changes the entire course of Salvation: Judas can’t know ahead of time where the Passover will be held.
If he knows, he can have the guards come to the house where Jesus is staying. It is essential that that does not happen. Because it is at the Passover meal that Jesus will institute the Eucharist and give humanity the new covenant, the offering and consumption of His Body and Blood until the end of time. This has vital theological ramifications, because the flesh of the Passover lamb must be consumed in order for the sacrifice and covenant to be fulfilled. If Jesus is the fulfillment of the Passover sacrifice, slaughtered on the Cross during the twilight brought upon by a solar eclipse, therefore His flesh must be eaten for the act of salvation to be brought to completion. But I’ll let Scott Hahn or Dr. Sri break that down for you.
Covenant theology is crucial. Typology is a fun word to pronounce. But that’s not the only thing on Jesus’ mind as He delivers these instructions for the secret location of the Passover. He is thinking of you. He is thinking of how desperately He thirsts for profound union with you. So gnawing is His hunger that He can’t even wait until you are in heaven to enter into this communion with you. No, the Son of Man sees you in your weakness and pities you. Through the Eucharist, He brings heaven down to you.
The Eucharist is Christ’s final gift to His Bride, the Church, before He lays down His life for her. It is a gift so precious that He guards it at all costs, ensuring that His plans for the great apokalypsis, the precious unveiling of His plan for humanity, are not waylaid by human treachery.
Today, Judas the spy paces back and forth, completely undone by the demon of greed that gnaws all grace away from his soul. But his rage-filled scheming has nothing on the jealous love of your God, who goes to the greatest lengths in preparation for the gift He will give you tomorrow. Tomorrow, He will give you Himself.