Wednesday of Holy Week is traditionally called “Spy Wednesday,” since it was on this day that Judas conspired with the Temple leadership to hand Jesus over. He would not accomplish his task until the evening of the next day, but this day he made the arrangements and was paid.
One way to reflect on this terrible sin is to consider that Judas was among the first priests called by Jesus. We see in the call of the Apostles the establishment of the ministerial priesthood. Jesus called these men to lead His Church and minister in His name. But one of these priests went wrong, terribly wrong, and turned against the very one he should have proclaimed.
We also see great weaknesses among the other “first priests.” Peter denied Jesus, though he later repented. All the others except John deserted Jesus at the time of His Passion. Yes, I am sad to say, only one priest, one bishop made it to the foot of the Cross. All the rest fled in fear. And so here we see the “sins of the clergy” made manifest. Christ did not call perfect men. He promised to protect His Church from officially teaching error but this does not mean that there is no sin in the Church, nor that those who are called to lead are without sin. The story of Judas shows that even among those who were called, one went terribly wrong.
In recent years there has been much focus on the sins of Catholic priests who went terribly wrong and sexually abused the young. The vast majority of priests have never done such things, but those who did so inflicted great harm.
There are other sins of the clergy that have nothing to do with sexuality but that also may have caused great harm. Maybe it was an insensitive remark. Perhaps it was a failure to respond at a critical moment such as a hospital visit. And how many of you have lamented deeply the scandal of silent pulpits, the silence of so many clergy in the face of a moral meltdown? Whatever it might be that has harmed or alienated you, please don’t give up on God or on the Church. If a priest or a Church leader has caused you grief please know that there are other priests, deacons, and lay leaders who stand ready to hear your concerns and offer healing. Let the healing begin. Ask among your Catholic family and friends for recommendations about helpful and sensitive priests or Church leaders who can listen to your concerns, address them where possible, and offer another opportunity for the Church to reach out to you with love.
On this “Spy Wednesday” pray especially for priests. We carry the treasure of our priesthood in earthen vessels; as human beings we struggle with our own issues. We have many good days, but some less-than-stellar moments, too. The vast majority of priests, though sinners, are good men who strive to do their very best. But some among us have sinned greatly and, like Judas, caused harm to the Body of Christ. Some of us may have caused harm to you. Please accept this invitation to begin anew.
If you have stayed away because of some hurt caused by any leader of the Church, strive on this “Spy Wednesday” to still seek Christ where He is found. He is among sinners and saints, in the Church He founded. The Church is perfect in her beauty as the Bride of Christ, but consists of members who are still “on the way” to holiness.
After all my verbiage, here is a music video that presents this message better than I ever could. If you have ever known someone who has been hurt, or been hurt yourself, allow this powerful video to move you.