Homily for Monday of Holy Week Year A
Theme: THE SPIRIT OF JUDAS, PT 1.
By: Fr. Ben Agbo
Homily for Monday April 6 2020
* Is 42 : 1 – 7, Jn 12 : 1 – 11.
Judas Iscariot is such a terrible character in biblical theology that a lot of apocryphal legends say funny things about his birth and family background. I do not want to bother you with these stories now but I am just interested in the contextualization of his character in the modern day ecclesiastical domain. According to the erudite homily commentator John Rose, ‘Those who hide covetousness under the garb of charity have the spirit of Judas’.
On that fateful day that a crowd gathered around the Bethany home of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, it was a concatenation of people with mixed interests, belief and mission. While the majority came to see face to face the man called Lazarus that ‘they said Jesus rose from the dead’, the Chief Priests and elders were fomenting their animosity more and more against Jesus and decided even to kill Lazarus since it was on his account that many of the Jews were decamping from Judaism to Christianity. But Mary had a different mission : to express her unalloyed appreciation for Jesus through such a costly anointing. Martha was also busy in the kitchen doing what she knew best.
But this elicited what John Rose calls an ‘avaricious objection from Judas Iscariot’. He claimed that such an offering should have been better reserved for the poor. But the truth is that he was a thief. Piety had no place in Judas’ life. All that mattered for him was money. He, although an apostle (bishop) had no real love for Jesus and could not understand the devotion and love shown to Jesus by others like Mary. When he criticized Mary, avarice and greed spoke out through him. He put a price tag on Mary’s anointing of Jesus ; 300 denari ( about #800,000) if they sold it was worth the day pay of a Nigerian labourer for one year). A few days later, he will still pursue for his own 10% self imposed commission through the betrayal of his master for 30 pieces of silver.
Many pastors and priests today are covering their covetousness under the pretext of religion. Some collect money for the sendoff of Seminarians or ordination of fellow priests only to take their own commission even beyond the alleged 10% that Judas went for. Many of our Parish Councillors, CMO, CWO and Laity leaders are playing out the spirit of Judas as they extort money from their subjects for diocesan budgets, August meetings, Cathedraticum, etc and always taking their own commissions. They have no love for the poor and will always propose one Church project or the other with the clandestine intention of enriching their own pockets through the projects.
Anyone who loves Christ truly will lay the best at His feet for His service and glory. By anointing Jesus, Mary acknowledged him as the promised Messiah who was Priest, Prophet and King. The spirit of Judas is a ‘familiar spirit’ among us today ; It is a religious spirit that is very rampant among our Churches and it is a very dangerous spirit. All priests and religious workers must beware of it! As we observe the painful shut down of Churches this year all over the world, let us listen to God’s warning for us to purify his Church of all corruption ( the spirit of Judas).
May God bless you today!