Psalm 69:8-10, 21-22, 31 and 33-34
The Servant of the Lord is called by God (first song), commissioned by God (second song) and disciplined by God (third song). The third song goes deeper into the mystery of the Servant’s passion. The Servant speaks about his past obedience and sufferings as the “disciple” of the Lord, and he is confident that the Lord will vindicate him against his opponents.
God has given his Servant the ability to speak eloquently, for he has a well-trained tongue, and encouragingly, for he has the ability to rouse the weary. The mission to the weary extends to all people: the Jews are weary under the burden of the law, the Gentiles are weary under the burden of false religious idols. The Servant is instructed by God: he hears the word of God daily and communicates this word to all nations. The word that the Servant proclaims is not his own: “I have given them the words which you gave me” (John 17:8).
The Servant submits to suffering at the hands of men because he is obedient to the plan of God. Unlike the people of Israel, the Servant has not been rebellious or been unfaithful, for he always what is pleasing to God. At the hands of men, the Servant will be beaten on his back and scourged, his beard will be pulled out, and his face will be beaten and spat upon. Through it all, the Servant is confident that God will help him. He will not be disgraced, he will not be put to shame. This confidence gives him fresh strength to endure the sufferings at hand: “I have set my face like flint”. The Servant addresses his adversaries and challenges them to confront him in a trial. He is sure that God will vindicate him.
Judas Iscariot becomes one of Jesus’ adversaries and opponents. Instead of confronting Jesus openly and seeking the truth, he betrays him in secret. John tells us that Judas was a lover of money and a thief, and stole from the community of apostles. Jesus taught that one cannot serve both God and money. You will love one and hate the other. Judas never fully accepted Jesus. He is labeled as the one who handed Jesus over after Peter’s confession of faith (John 6:71) and at the anointing at Bethany (John 12:4). Instead of confessing Jesus as the Messiah, the son of God, Judas prefers to seek his own gain from being associated with Jesus. Instead of honoring Jesus, the son of Man, Judas prefers to hide his greed through lying and deceit.
Judas is the one who betrayed Jesus. He planned the betrayal in advance and agreed with Jesus’ enemies to the price of 30 pieces of silver. He executed the betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane with a kiss. Whether Judas betrayed Jesus out of greed or because he didn’t accept the way Jesus carried out his messianic mission, the important thing to realize is that Judas gave in to the temptation of the Evil One (Benedict XVI, 18 October 2006). Judas, Pope Benedict teaches, repented, but his repentance degenerated into desperation and became self-destructive. He did not embrace God’s mercy and forgiveness.
Like the Suffering Servant, Jesus Christ, we too are disciplined by God. We are taught by him and we learn obedience through our suffering. We are not always faithful like Jesus. Our infidelity, however, is not a cause for despair, but an opportunity to return to God and fully embrace his merciful love.
Readers may contact Father Jason Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.