Today is the Ides of March and the anniversary of the assassination of Julius Caesar. Most of us as schoolchildren read Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, and remember that when Caesar saw his supposed friend, Brutus, among those who plunged their daggers into his dying body, he said, “Et tu, Brute?” Even you, Brutus?
There is a sort of parallel between that sad perception of treachery in a close associate and the scene that we find in the gospel the night before Our Lord’s death. One of his twelve apostles, Judas Iscariot, had lost faith in Jesus and decided to make a little money on his infidelity. So he went to the enemies of Jesus and said to them, “How much will you give me if I betray him to you?” They offered him thirty pieces of silver, and it was arranged for the arrest to take place in the Garden of Olives where Jesus and the apostles spent the night when they were in Jerusalem. To add a further touch of depravity to his betrayal of Our Lord, Judas told Our Lord’s enemies that he would indicate in the darkness of the olive grove which one was Jesus by kissing him.
So on that supreme night, after having instituted the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist and making his apostles priests and bishops, Jesus went out into the Garden of Olives to pray in preparation for the horror that awaited him the following day. Judas appeared, leading a group of soldiers to arrest Jesus. He went up to Jesus, said to him, “Hail, Rabbi,” and kissed him. And Our Lord, to indicate the vileness of the betrayal, made even more vile by the hypocritical kiss, said to him, “Judas, do you betray the Son of Man with a KISS?” It is similar to the “Et tu, Brute?” of Julius Caesar to Brutus about seventy-five years earlier.
Our Divine Lord offers us his friendship; he even offers his life on the cross for our redemption. May we never betray him by sin or by false expressions of devotion. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This message was composed some years ago.