Even though we don’t all follow sports, most of us are at least familiar with some aspect of “March Madness”.  I read an article which said that less than a day into this year’s NCAA Men’s tournament, 99.99% of the brackets had already been busted.  This means a lot more people should have opted for the underdogs.  A good reminder that winners don’t always win.

Today is Holy Wednesday, a day the Church recalls the plot of Judas’ betrayal against Jesus.  In today’s Gospel from Matthew, we are reminded that at the time of negotiation the loss of Jesus’ life was worth 30 pieces of silver to Judas. (26:15) Further along in the Gospel we learn that Judas deeply regretted his betrayal of Jesus, returned the thirty pieces of silver (27:3) and took his own life. (27:5)

Judas started out a winner having been handpicked by Jesus Himself.  He was in the inner circle with Jesus…one of the chosen twelve.  Any reasonable follower would have picked Judas Iscariot, and he would have busted their brackets.  Winners don’t always win. 

One of the most well-known and notable Biblical characters, Judas leaves many of us conflicted.  On one hand we can’t fathom handing our beloved Lord and Savior over with a kiss in Gethsemane, and all for love of money?  On the other, we empathize with Judas’ shame and regret.  In our own ways, we feel the remorse of Judas, knowing regret for having broken the heart of Jesus ourselves.  We understand Judas’ desire to hand back what we bargained for, and the enormous weight that can make life heavy on our shoulders.

Jesus tells Judas in today’s Gospel that “it would be better for him if he had never been born.”  (26:24) The harsh words Jesus spoke lead many to determine that Judas will spend eternity in hell.   Despite the Church’s belief in hell, it does not teach that any particular person (including Judas) is actually in hell.  Pope Benedict reminds us that “Judas’ motives remain a mystery.  That he yielded to the temptation of the evil one (the Devil)” saying that even those of us who live and draw close to Jesus (like Judas) are not “invulnerable to sin”.  In fact, Pope Benedict said, “it is a mistake to think that the great privilege of living in company with Jesus is enough to make a person holy”. 

The apostles showed their humanity in the early Church, just as we live with the humanness of the Church today.  While we are all bracket busters to one degree or another, God always wins at the end of the story.  I was reminded of the words of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen today that “Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday”. 

We invite you to join us for Confession this evening with Bishop Frank Schuster and Fr. Martin Bourke at 5 p.m., followed by a Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the Rosary and Mass at 6 p.m.  A reminder, too, that we will celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper and Washing of the Feet tomorrow at 7 p.m.  On Good Friday, Stations of the Cross will be held at 3 p.m. and The Passion of the Lord at 7 p.m. in the evening. 

May this Holy Week find you face to face with Jesus.

With Love,