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you offer to me the price of a slave for delivering up to you the great leader of the people ?”
But the father of lies is whispering that, no doubt, much more will be added later.
Many commentators think that the thirty pieces of silver were thirty sicles; the appointed compensation for a slave killed. Others think the silver pieces were only half-sicles. There is much difference in the calculations of Biblical scholars who try to fix the value of these thirty pieces. Some put the price paid as low as fifteen or sixteen shillings. Others suppose it to be about £120. A very painstaking modern writer sets down the thirty pieces as equal to ninety-three francs, less than £ 4.
When the objection is raised that the potter's field could not be bought at such a price, they answer that probably the burialground bought for strangers was a small plot of very poor land, worth very little; and they add that though Judas' fee was devoted to the purchase of this cemetery, other money may have been added out of the Treasury.
Against this latter supposition might be urged St. Peter's word (Acts i.), that Judas hath possessed a field of the reward of iniquity. Though the words of St. Peter were partly a figure of speech, since, according to the common opinion, Judas did not live to be in possession of the field; yet the words would imply that the money of Judas purchased the field.
The Prophet Zachary is supposed to allude to this bargain in chapter xi.: They weighed for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the Lord said : Cast it to the statuary (the potter ?). А handsome price that I was prized at by them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and I cast them into the house of the Lord to the statuary (the potter).
The Patriarch Joseph, a type of our Lord, was sold by his brothers for twenty pieces of silver (Genesis xxxvii.).
B. Learn a lesson from these hard-hearted and blinded priests. They are willing to pay thirty pieces of silver to gain possession of jesus in order to destroy Him. He is offered to us at a less price that we may possess Him and enjoy Him for ever. You that have no money, make haste, buy and eat (Isaias lv.).
Alas! alas ! how closely we should now be united to our Blessed Saviour had we been always willing to pay the little price asked of us for the possession of Him; less oftentimes than the two pigeons offered by Holy Mary in the Temple.
C. Judas was willing to sell his Divine Master for thirty pieces. Seeing that he could extort no more he promised. When grievous sin is committed, our Lord is given up, and as far as it rests with us, given up for ever, often for less than thirty pieces; for a theft; for a sensual gratification; for an act revenge.
“O my God, the whole world before Thee is as the least grain of the balance, and as a drop of the morning dew (Wisdom xi.). What then shall the poor sinner think throughout eternity of the bargain he made, and the price he accepted in exchange for Thee, his God and his all ?”
Woe is me! The serpent deceived me.
Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and ye gates thereof be very desolate, saith the Lord. For My people have done two evils. They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living water, and have digged to themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that hold no water (Jerem. ii.).
And from thenceforth he sought opportunity to betray Him
(v. 16). A. He has not got his money yet; he has still to earn it; and scant indeed though his gains be, he devotes himself earnestly to the task of securing his thirty pieces of silver. All that night and next day his mind is planning and contriving.
Oh, that we who claim to be children of light would learn from this child of darkness to traffic diligently! If we work to win Jesus as Judas did to betray Him, we shall certainly succeed; and with what a different outcome! He gained his thirty pieces, but not to enjoy them; we shall gain Jesus, to have Him and possess Him and love Him for
the day of the unleavened bread came (the first day of the Azymes), on which it was necessary that the Pasch should be killed (St. Luke xxii. ; St. Matt. xxvi.).
Preparations for this solemn Pasch were being made in Heaven, in Hell, and on earth. “O vos omnes qui transitis per viain, attendite et videte." Oh, let us not pass heedlessly on our way, but halt at least a little while, to see with the eyes of our soul and to listen with our ears.
Early in the morning of this day, as some commentators infer from the Talmud, at the door of every synagogue in Jerusalem-and there were many--the sentence of the Greater Excommunication was solemnly, and with sound of trumpet, pronounced by one of the Priests against Jesus of Nazareth. Before the arrival of the Romans, the effect of this awful sentence was that the criminal so doomed was outlawed, and could be hunted down and slain by any one so blessed as to find the chance of striking the blow. The Romans, by taking away the power of life and death, lessened very greatly the terror of this sentence, but the form still remained; and the ceremony would, it was hoped, help to overawe the people, and bring them to see that Jesus was not, as they thought, a holy Prophet, but a most wicked seducer. To a certain extent it is a sore disappointment to the Priests and Ancients that the Excommunication cannot have its full effect. Gladly indeed would they have used their ancient liberty and offered ample largess to any one who would bring to them Jesus of Nazareth, alive or dead. But the day of their theocracy is passed. They are the slaves of the Romans. There is no Judas Maccabeus living now to assert their independence. On the north side of the Temple area, even on the sacred Mount Moriah, and almost within a stonethrow of the Holy of Holies, stand the impregnable towers of the fortress Antonia, the Roman stronghold, with its hated Roman name. There it stands, the inheritance left them by a creature of Rome, the alien usurper, HerodHerod the Great, so called. The fortress Antonia controls the whole city; bu most of all, every movement of the Priests and Levites in the Temple. They cannot stir hand or foot in their thraldom. And at this season, when Jews from all countries crowd into Jerusalem, Roman vigilance is doubled and trebled. On the other hand, there is this one great consolation for the malice of the Jewish Rulers, that the Roman law allows more ample room for their cruelty. They will not be limited to forty stripes save one. Neither will they be obliged to put the blasphemer to death by stoning, for the Romans crucify. And till now in the history of the world, no form of death has been found out more appalling than crucifixion. The Rulers have, therefore, selected for Jesus the Roman death by crucifixion.
The day of the unleavened bread came (St. Luke xxii. 7).
A. Listen to the trumpet sound, and hear with a heavy heart Jesus of Nazareth proclaimed excommunicated and an outlaw.
St. Ignatius, in his meditation on Hell, directs our special attention to the blasphemies there uttered against Jesus Christ our Lord.
We are permitted to approach Him in the holy tabernacle to console Him and say: Thou art not excommunicate, dear Lord, nor the outcast of the people (Psalm xxi.). Tu Rex gloria Christe; Tu Patris sempiternus es FiliusThou art the King of Glory; Thou art the Father's own Eternal Son. Besides Thee what have Thy blessed ones in Heaven ? Besides Thee what need we desire on earth?” (Psalm lxxii.).
Let us not hasten away too soon; for gladly are we welcomed by our Blessed Saviour when we remember Him and come to console Him. Linger then still a little, to say with St. Bernard :
Nil canitur suavius,
No music soothes the ear,
No voice so sweet to hear,
No day-dreams half so dear,
Jesus, as Thy loved Name. B. We may also learn here to value at their true worth human judgments, the praise of men and their blame. Jesus of Nazareth is sentenced as a wicked outlaw by these miserable Rulers; but the voice of His Eternal Father proclaims aloud : This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased (St. Matt. xvii.). What wonder that they who love Christ loathe the praises of the world that excommunicates Jesus? The sons of men are liars in the balances (Psalm 1xi.).
C. Moreover, how fatal for ourselves it is to judge and sentence others rashly, and then spread abroad our calumnious judgments! These most unhappy men excommunicate Jesus; but on whose head does the sentence light? On His, or on theirs ? For wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself (Romans ii.).
D. Meanwhile, despite the trumpet warning and the excommunication, and the mandate renewed that if any man knew where he was he should tell (St. John xi.), our Lord is walking in the daylight, surrounded by His followers. For not yet is the night come in which no man can work. They do not lay hands on Him, for their
eyes are held.
The day of the unleavened bread came (St. Luke xxii. 7).
A. Every day of His thirty-three years in this valley of tears, our Blessed Lord may be supposed to have said as the morning came: I have a Baptism wherewith I am to be baptised, and how am I straitened until it be accomplished (St. Luke xii.). Therefore, according to the inspired pro