Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus announces his betrayal just after transforming bread and wine into his Body and Blood. It is of great moment that, immediately after this extraordinary event, Jesus speaks of treachery: “The one who ate my food has raised his heel against me.”
In the biblical reading, God’s desires have been, from the beginning, opposed. Consistently, human beings have preferred the isolation of sin to the festivity of the sacred meal. Theologians call this tendency the mysterium iniquitatis (the mystery of evil), for there is no rational ground for it. Therefore, we should not be too surprised that, as the sacred meal comes to its richest possible expression, evil accompanies it.
Judas the betrayer expresses the mysterium iniquitatis with particular symbolic power, for he had spent years in intimacy with Jesus, taking in the Lord’s moves and thoughts at close quarters and sharing table fellowship with him—and yet, he saw fit to turn Jesus over to his enemies.
Those of us who regularly gather around the table of intimacy with Christ and yet engage consistently in the works of darkness are meant to see ourselves in the betrayer.