HOMILY for Wed in Holy Week
“The love of money is the root of all evils” (1 Tim 6:10), St Paul says to St Timothy. Over the past few days, we’ve glimpsed that this may have been Judas’ main problem. He was entrusted with the common purse but he’d been embezzling the money, thus betraying the trust of the community. He was entrusted with Christ’s friendship but Judas betrayed that too. He knew where Jesus would go and pray – in Gethsemane – and he revealed that most intimate location to the guards, betraying Christ with the kiss of false friendship. And all for the sake of thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave. But, as these actions show, it was poor Judas who was the slave, chained by his love for money.
But it’s not money, per se, that one loves, is it? After all, those printed pieces of paper and discs of hard metal are not much use in themselves. It’s what money can achieve and acquire for us, and what it stands for that makes money so desireable. For money stands for survival, security, self-esteem. It enables independence, insurance, and influence. It makes life more pleasant and comfortable. And none of these is necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, it’s often the lack of money that is the root of so many of the world’s evils like poverty, starvation, and homelessness!
However, many of the world’s evils also arise when we desire money and its gains too much, to the detriment of genuine loving relationships and of not sharing what we have more equally. Judas’ sin is not that he needs money, or uses money, or even wants more money. It is betraying his friends, failing to love, turning away from the community and its needs that is his sin. For a greed for money engenders not just independence but isolation, not just security but selfishness. The love of money leaves little time or energy for the genuine love of people, and it is this lack of love that leads to the lack of good, to evil.
So, ultimately, Judas’ sin is a lack of love, and it is on this basis that he – and every one of us – is judged. As St John of the Cross says: “At the end of our life, we will be judged on love”; not on what we have or do not have, whether we’re rich or poor, but on love. On this basis, we’re all equal.
The past forty days, then, have invited us all on a movement of love, away from self and towards others; from Judas to Jesus. Hence, our journey culminates with him on the Cross. There, stripped of all possessions and status, completely poor but also most free, the greatest Love dies for his friends – for you, for me, and also for Judas. With Christ, all that we ever desire, all that money stands for is ours, for free!