[A 3 minute read]
She was embarrassed, at first, just to be there, had never been to a Foodbank before. She had recently started two part time jobs and was now earning less than she had once received on benefits and was finding it difficult to provide for her children. She was feeling the pinch. Her predicament is replicated across the country and throughout the world. So many people are paid less than a living wage, they aren’t paid enough to live. There will even be some employers somewhere who treat their workers simply as commodities, a means through which they can make and amass much wealth, their eyes firmly on the money.
In the gospel reading today (Matthew 26:1-4,25), Judas’ eyes seem to be on the money. He has access to Jesus, can lead the authorities to him. He can guide them to the garden where in secret, in seclusion, Jesus has slipped away to pray. But how much can he get from them? What do they think Jesus is worth – and what is Judas willing to take? It turns out that thirty pieces of silver is enough to comfort the linings of his purse. For him, of course, the story ends in disaster. Burdened with guilt, ravaged by regret, he tries to lighten his purse and lighten the load he now carries but they refuse the refund. He takes to a tree and hangs himself. He has lost everything.
As we spend more time at home, unable to meet with family and friends, unable to go freely about our business or gather as the church, perhaps there is a fresh appreciation of what is important, and what is necessary to life. In a world which so often measures us by what we have rather than what we are, Pope Francis once described consumerism as “a virus that attacks the faith at the roots” for it makes us believe that life depends on what we have, leaving us with no need for God.
As we take a move closer to the Triduum, those three holy days beginning with Maundy Thursday, may we enter more deeply into the mystery of Christ and create for ourselves a time of turning away from what we want and think rather about what we need. In doing so, we can grow in a spirit of generosity, sharing what we have with others, entering into the their poverty, and bringing the riches of the good news of Jesus and the fruits of his love. And how much is his love worth? Its cost can be seen in his outstretched arms on the cross where the only thing consumed is sin and death.
It’s a long way off but inside it
There are quite different things going on:
Festivals at which the poor man
Is king and the consumptive is
Healed; mirrors in which the blind look
At themselves and love looks at them
Back; and industry is for mending
The bent bones and the minds fractured
By life. It’s a long way off, but to get
There takes no time and admission
Is free, if you purge yourself
Of desire, and present yourself with
Your need only and the simple offering
Of your faith, green as a leaf
(The Kingdom by R.S Thomas)