A-MUSED

with eyes wide open, beholding the extra-ordinary in the daily ordinariness of people, things and events

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FROM ACTION TO PASSION

Passion is a kind of waiting - waiting for what other people are going to do. Jesus went to Jerusalem to announce the good news to the people of that city. And Jesus knew that he was going to put a choice before them: Will you be my disciple, or will you be my executioner? There is no middle ground here. Jesus went to Jerusalem to put people in a situation where they had to say “Yes” or “No”. That is the great drama of Jesus’ passion: he had to wait for their response. What would they do? Betray him or follow him?

In a way, his agony is not simply the agony of approaching death. It is also the agony of being out of control and of having to wait. It is the agony of a God who depends on us to decide how to live out the divine presence among us. It is the agony of the God who, in a very mysterious way, allows us to decide how God will be God. Here we glimpse the mystery of God’s incarnation. God became human not only to act among us but also to be the recipient of our responses.

… And that is the mystery of Jesus’ love. Jesus in his passion is the one who waits for our response. Precisely in that waiting the intensity of his love and God’s is revealed to us.

Henri Nouwen, “From Action to Passion,” from “A Spirituality of Waiting” by Henri J. M. Nouwen, in The Weavings Reader (Upper Room Books, 1993), ed. by John Mogabga

Filed under action passion Henri Nouwen Spirituality of Waiting yes no agony response waiting

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INDISCRIMINATE TABLE FELLOWSHIP
"Whatever Judas’s degree of guilt and whatever his motive, it is extremely important to note that Jesus identifies his betrayer by feeding him. Not by turning over the table and casting him out. Not by tying him to his chair so he cannot carry out his plan, but by feeding him - dipping a morsel into his own cup and giving it to Judas, whose feet he has just washed.
Knowing who Judas is and what he is about to do, Jesus does not throw him out. He bathes him and feeds him, which means that Judas is never - never - excluded from the circle of friends. He is included until he excludes himself.
Jesus went on giving himself away to the one who would give him away, because his faithfulness did not depend on theirs. When he dipped the morsel in his cup and handed it to Judas, he not only revealed who Judas was, he also revealed who he was. The one who feeds his enemies - who goes on treating them as friends - loving them to the end.” | Barbara Brown Taylor
Art | Armenian miniature of the last supper found at Picasa Web

INDISCRIMINATE TABLE FELLOWSHIP

"Whatever Judas’s degree of guilt and whatever his motive, it is extremely important to note that Jesus identifies his betrayer by feeding him. Not by turning over the table and casting him out. Not by tying him to his chair so he cannot carry out his plan, but by feeding him - dipping a morsel into his own cup and giving it to Judas, whose feet he has just washed.

Knowing who Judas is and what he is about to do, Jesus does not throw him out. He bathes him and feeds him, which means that Judas is never - never - excluded from the circle of friends. He is included until he excludes himself.

Jesus went on giving himself away to the one who would give him away, because his faithfulness did not depend on theirs. When he dipped the morsel in his cup and handed it to Judas, he not only revealed who Judas was, he also revealed who he was. The one who feeds his enemies - who goes on treating them as friends - loving them to the end.” | Barbara Brown Taylor

Art | Armenian miniature of the last supper found at Picasa Web

Filed under Last Supper Holy Thursday Maundy Thursday bread wine armenian miniature quotation excerpt Barbara Brown Taylor

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JUDAS OUR BROTHER
L. Alexander Harper makes a remarkable observation about Johann Sebastian Bach's musical representation of the Passion story in the Saint Matthew Passion:

"Judas’ question to Jesus had always been a solo in other cantatas, because Judas is an individual. Not so for Bach. Breaking all tradition, he has the whole chorus instead sing that guilty question, ‘Is it I, Lord?’ The chorus represents you, me, the whole world. Judas is within us all, not ‘out there’ or ‘back in history’ somewhere comfortably remote. Judas is our brother."

L. Alexander Harper,  “Judas, Our Brother,”  St. Luke’s Journal of Theology 29 (1986),102.
REFLECTION

When do our troubles begin? No text says it better than this one: "Judas went his way" (Luke 22:4 - New King James Version). When we go our own way, when we go off on our own, is it possible that we are instigating and inviting trouble?
Painting | Heads of Judas and Peter by Leonardo da Vinci

JUDAS OUR BROTHER

L. Alexander Harper makes a remarkable observation about Johann Sebastian Bach's musical representation of the Passion story in the Saint Matthew Passion:

"Judas’ question to Jesus had always been a solo in other cantatas, because Judas is an individual. Not so for Bach. Breaking all tradition, he has the whole chorus instead sing that guilty question, ‘Is it I, Lord?’ The chorus represents you, me, the whole world. Judas is within us all, not ‘out there’ or ‘back in history’ somewhere comfortably remote. Judas is our brother."

L. Alexander Harper,  Judas, Our Brother,”  St. Luke’s Journal of Theology 29 (1986),102.

REFLECTION

When do our troubles begin? No text says it better than this one: "Judas went his way" (Luke 22:4 - New King James Version). When we go our own way, when we go off on our own, is it possible that we are instigating and inviting trouble?

Painting | Heads of Judas and Peter by Leonardo da Vinci

Filed under Leonardo da Vinci Judas Peter betrayal denial paitnings Johann Sebastian Bach passion

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THE LAST SUPPER
Here is a Rainer Maria Rilke's poem to pray with on this Maundy Thursday. As you pray your way through these few verses, imagine yourself invited, sitting round the table.

They are assembled around him, troubled and confused.He seems withdrawn,as if, strangely, he were flowing pastthose to whom he had belonged.The old aloneness comes over him.It had prepared him for his deep work.Now once again he will go out to the olive groves.Now those who love him will flee from him.
He had bid them come to this last meal.Their hands on the breadtremble now at the words he speaks,tremble in sudden silenceas a forest does when a gun is fired.They long to leave, and they will.But they will find him everywhere.




Poem | “The Last Supper" by Rainer Maria Rilke in Anita Barrows & Joanna Macy, A Year with Rilke: Daily Readings from the Best pf Rainer Maria Rilke (Harper One, 2009) page 89.
Painting | The Last Supper (Leonardo da Vinci Improvisation) by Vladimir Zunuzin

THE LAST SUPPER

Here is a Rainer Maria Rilke's poem to pray with on this Maundy Thursday. As you pray your way through these few verses, imagine yourself invited, sitting round the table.

They are assembled around him, troubled and confused.
He seems withdrawn,

as if, strangely, he were flowing past
those to whom he had belonged.
The old aloneness comes over him.
It had prepared him for his deep work.
Now once again he will go out to the olive groves.
Now those who love him will flee from him.

He had bid them come to this last meal.
Their hands on the bread
tremble now at the words he speaks,
tremble in sudden silence
as a forest does when a gun is fired.
They long to leave, and they will.
But they will find him everywhere.

Poem | “The Last Supper" by Rainer Maria Rilke in Anita Barrows & Joanna Macy, A Year with Rilke: Daily Readings from the Best pf Rainer Maria Rilke (Harper One, 2009) page 89.

Painting | The Last Supper (Leonardo da Vinci Improvisation) by Vladimir Zunuzin

Filed under last supper crucifixion eucharist washing of feet Leonardo da Vinci Rainer Maria Rilke

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ALLOWING OUR FEET TO BE WASHED
A bold and most impressive rendering of John 13.6-II. The artist, Sadao Watanabe uses the device of elongated hands, fingers and toes and the large eyes of Jesus to stress the importance of this symbolic act; this device is reminiscent of early medieval book illuminations, St. Peter is seated with eyes closed in humility and prayer, as Christ kneels before him; an angel blesses, gently touching Christ’s halo. The three figures are closely united, as they bend towards each other, conveying profound sanctity.
Enter the scene:
Taking the place of Peter … what is our reaction to this gesture of radical service and compassionate presence?
Taking the place of Jesus … how convinced are we that an authentic human life is one of radical service, an unconditional reaching out towards friends and enemies alike?
Taking the place of the angel … how are we living out our call  to bless and encourage one another as we go about living our lives of service?
Art | Christ Washing the Feet of St. Peter, a stencil by Sadao Watanabe

ALLOWING OUR FEET TO BE WASHED

A bold and most impressive rendering of John 13.6-II. The artist, Sadao Watanabe uses the device of elongated hands, fingers and toes and the large eyes of Jesus to stress the importance of this symbolic act; this device is reminiscent of early medieval book illuminations, St. Peter is seated with eyes closed in humility and prayer, as Christ kneels before him; an angel blesses, gently touching Christ’s halo. The three figures are closely united, as they bend towards each other, conveying profound sanctity.

Enter the scene:

  • Taking the place of Peter … what is our reaction to this gesture of radical service and compassionate presence?
  • Taking the place of Jesus … how convinced are we that an authentic human life is one of radical service, an unconditional reaching out towards friends and enemies alike?
  • Taking the place of the angel … how are we living out our call  to bless and encourage one another as we go about living our lives of service?

Art | Christ Washing the Feet of St. Peter, a stencil by Sadao Watanabe

Filed under foot washing last supper maundy thursday holy thursday Sadao Watanabe prints

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FLOWERS IN THE DESERT
We began these daily Lent reflections by noting how Lent takes us into a spiritual desert. Biblical people knew all about the desert: Abraham has to cross it to get to the promised land; Moses and the Israelite people have to go through it to get home; Joseph is sent into Egypt and prison before he is ready for his mission; John the Baptist is a voice crying in the desert; Paul goes into the desert of Arabia after meeting the Lord on the road to Damascus. Even Jesus himself spends forty days and nights in the desert before commencing his ministry—the template on which Lent is based. What does the desert symbolize? A number of things: confrontation with our own sin so as to see our dark side; a deep realization of our dependency upon God; an ordering of our priorities in life; a simplification, a getting back to basics. It means any and all of these things. However, the desert also symbolizes waiting in anticipation. Desert wanderers are compelled to wait, in a time and place where very little life seems to be on offer, in hope of better things to come. And it’s precisely in such hopeful deserts that flowers bloom. Moses becomes a great leader; Abraham is the father of many nations; Joseph becomes the savior of his people; John the Baptist is the forerunner of the Messiah; Paul is the apostle to the Gentiles-all of this flowering was made possible by the desert. So as we near the end of Lent, the end of our desert waiting, and move toward the Holy Triduum, let’s prepare for new flowers to bloom.  
Text | Lenten Reflections by Fr Robert BarronPhoto | Hougaard Malan

FLOWERS IN THE DESERT

We began these daily Lent reflections by noting how Lent takes us into a spiritual desert. Biblical people knew all about the desert: Abraham has to cross it to get to the promised land; Moses and the Israelite people have to go through it to get home; Joseph is sent into Egypt and prison before he is ready for his mission; John the Baptist is a voice crying in the desert; Paul goes into the desert of Arabia after meeting the Lord on the road to Damascus. Even Jesus himself spends forty days and nights in the desert before commencing his ministry—the template on which Lent is based. 

What does the desert symbolize? A number of things: confrontation with our own sin so as to see our dark side; a deep realization of our dependency upon God; an ordering of our priorities in life; a simplification, a getting back to basics. It means any and all of these things. 

However, the desert also symbolizes waiting in anticipation. Desert wanderers are compelled to wait, in a time and place where very little life seems to be on offer, in hope of better things to come. 

And it’s precisely in such hopeful deserts that flowers bloom. Moses becomes a great leader; Abraham is the father of many nations; Joseph becomes the savior of his people; John the Baptist is the forerunner of the Messiah; Paul is the apostle to the Gentiles-all of this flowering was made possible by the desert. 

So as we near the end of Lent, the end of our desert waiting, and move toward the Holy Triduum, let’s prepare for new flowers to bloom.  

Text | Lenten Reflections by Fr Robert Barron
Photo | Hougaard Malan

Filed under Hougaard Malan desert wilderness landscape photography Robert Barron lent bloom flowers

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ANOINTINGS IN BETHANY(John 12:1-8)
Solemnly, Mary entered the room,Holding high the alabaster jar.It gleamed in the lamplight as she circled the room,Incensing the disciples, blessing Martha’s banquet.“A splendid table!”  Mary called with her eyesas she whirled past her sister.
She came to a halt at last before Jesus,Bowed profoundly and knelt at his feet.Deftly, she filled her right hand with nard,Placed the jar on the floor,Took one foot in her handsAnd moved fragrant fingers across his instep.
Over and over she made the journeyFrom heel to toes, thanking himFor every step he had madeOn Judea’s stony hills,For every stop at their home,For bringing back Lazarus.
She poured out more nardTook his other foot in her handsAnd started again with strong, rhythmic strokes.She felt her hands’ heat draw out his tiredness,Take away the rebuffs he had known –The shut doors, the shut hearts.
Energy flowed like a river between them.His saturated skin gleamed with oil.She had no towel!In an instant she pulled off her veil,Pulled the pins from her hairShook it out till it fell in cascades,And once more cradled each foot,Dried the ankles, the insteps,Drew the strands between his toes.
Without warning, Judas IscariotSpat out his anger, the words hissingLike lightning above her unveiled head:“why was this perfume not soldfor three hundred denariiand the money given to the poor?”
“Leave her alone!”Jesus silenced the usurper.“She bought it so that she might keep itfor the day of my burial.”
The words poured like oil,Anointing her from head to foot.
Irene Zimmerman, Women Un-Bent.  St Mary’s Press, 1999. Page 51-52Painting | Magdelene Anointing Jesus’Feet by Frank Wesley

ANOINTINGS IN BETHANY
(John 12:1-8)

Solemnly, Mary entered the room,
Holding high the alabaster jar.
It gleamed in the lamplight as she circled the room,
Incensing the disciples, blessing Martha’s banquet.
“A splendid table!”  Mary called with her eyes
as she whirled past her sister.

She came to a halt at last before Jesus,
Bowed profoundly and knelt at his feet.
Deftly, she filled her right hand with nard,
Placed the jar on the floor,
Took one foot in her hands
And moved fragrant fingers across his instep.

Over and over she made the journey
From heel to toes, thanking him
For every step he had made
On Judea’s stony hills,
For every stop at their home,
For bringing back Lazarus.

She poured out more nard
Took his other foot in her hands
And started again with strong, rhythmic strokes.
She felt her hands’ heat draw out his tiredness,
Take away the rebuffs he had known –
The shut doors, the shut hearts.

Energy flowed like a river between them.
His saturated skin gleamed with oil.
She had no towel!
In an instant she pulled off her veil,
Pulled the pins from her hair
Shook it out till it fell in cascades,
And once more cradled each foot,
Dried the ankles, the insteps,
Drew the strands between his toes.

Without warning, Judas Iscariot
Spat out his anger, the words hissing
Like lightning above her unveiled head:
“why was this perfume not sold
for three hundred denarii
and the money given to the poor?”

“Leave her alone!”
Jesus silenced the usurper.
“She bought it so that she might keep it
for the day of my burial.”

The words poured like oil,
Anointing her from head to foot.

Irene Zimmerman, Women Un-Bent.  St Mary’s Press, 1999. Page 51-52
Painting | Magdelene Anointing Jesus’Feet by Frank Wesley

Filed under Irene Zimmerman Frank Wesley anointing love poetry Women un-bent lent Holy Week

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SHE HAS SHOWN GREAT LOVE (Luke 7:36-50)
For your prayerful reflection during these remaining days leading to Easter, here is a lovely poem by Irene Zimmerman, O.S.F.
When she learned where Jesus had gone,the woman raced home,grabbed scarves and jewels,ran to pawn them.bought the biggest jar of nard she could buy,and flew to the house of Simon the Pharisee.
In the doorway she stopped to catch her breathand to let her eyes adjust to the dark.The room was filled with men,some of whom had known her more than once.She felt lewd eyes undressing her again.But then she saw Jesus.
Those others didn’t matter anymore.In a second she was on the floor,breaking open the alabaster jar,pouring out the nard, anointing his ankles,his hard soles, his long straight toes,kissing them, wiping them with her hair.
Only then did she remember the Law -by touching him, she had made him unclean!Self-loathing sobbed in her as she saw herselfgroveling for bread when she was too youngfor her woman’s trade, and later, being tossedlike a toy, devoured quickly in the dark.
She felt his quiet hand on her head,heard him speaking to his host,“Simon, I have something to say to you.”She poured out more oil, slowly, deliberately,held the jar upside down and poured it all out,her tears falling all the while unto his feet.
“Do you see this woman?” Jesus continued.“She has shown great love.”When she dared look up to him,his kind eyes anointed her from head to foot.“Your sins are forgiven,” he solemnly assured her.“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
She wiped the excess oil from between his toes,stood up and left the room, carrying with herthe fragrance of forgiveness.
Irene Zimmerman, Incarnation: New and Selected Poems for Spiritual Reflection (Cowley Publications, 2007) pages 64-65
Painting | Jesus anointed at Bethany by James Woodward 

SHE HAS SHOWN GREAT LOVE 
(Luke 7:36-50)

For your prayerful reflection during these remaining days leading to Easter, here is a lovely poem by Irene Zimmerman, O.S.F.

When she learned where Jesus had gone,
the woman raced home,
grabbed scarves and jewels,
ran to pawn them.
bought the biggest jar of nard she could buy,
and flew to the house of Simon the Pharisee.

In the doorway she stopped to catch her breath
and to let her eyes adjust to the dark.
The room was filled with men,
some of whom had known her more than once.
She felt lewd eyes undressing her again.
But then she saw Jesus.

Those others didn’t matter anymore.
In a second she was on the floor,
breaking open the alabaster jar,
pouring out the nard, anointing his ankles,
his hard soles, his long straight toes,
kissing them, wiping them with her hair.

Only then did she remember the Law -
by touching him, she had made him unclean!
Self-loathing sobbed in her as she saw herself
groveling for bread when she was too young
for her woman’s trade, and later, being tossed
like a toy, devoured quickly in the dark.

She felt his quiet hand on her head,
heard him speaking to his host,
“Simon, I have something to say to you.”
She poured out more oil, slowly, deliberately,
held the jar upside down and poured it all out,
her tears falling all the while unto his feet.

“Do you see this woman?” Jesus continued.
“She has shown great love.”
When she dared look up to him,
his kind eyes anointed her from head to foot.
“Your sins are forgiven,” he solemnly assured her.
“Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

She wiped the excess oil from between his toes,
stood up and left the room, carrying with her
the fragrance of forgiveness.

Irene Zimmerman, Incarnation: New and Selected Poems for Spiritual Reflection (Cowley Publications, 2007) pages 64-65

Painting | Jesus anointed at Bethany by James Woodward 

Filed under Irene Zimmerman Incarnation poem prayer alabaster nard washing of feet anointing James Woodward lent Holy Week

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JUDAS: 30 PIECES OF SILVER
I’ve got 30 pieces of meWrapped up in sackcloth and misery30 pieces of treacherySilver pieces of sin and sorrowTurning freedom into slaveryStealing away my tomorrowI’ve got 30 pieces of silver sinSelling me out and trading me in30 pieces of death and regretCheap trinkets and lies—I lost the betWithout a doubt—I’ve got 30 pieces of selling outGambled with Life and sold Him strife!This is what I’m all aboutMy life hangs in silver piecesDeath and judgment into eternityI’ve got 30 pieces of meOne silver coin of self-flipping in the air—No sense of concern; no empathy; no careOne silver coin of selfishness and apathy—I led them to he garden at night, you see—Darkness got the best of meOne silver coin of greed and tragedy—A public spectacle for all to seeOne silver coin slide—I have nothing but my prideOne silver coin roll—I’m a devil out of controlOne silver coin of lies—Deceit covered all eyesOne silver coin would just roll and roll—Religion takes its toll; it sells the soulOne silver coin of shame—I gave them His place and His nameOne silver coin of lust—I seek my own good, because I mustOne silver coin tumbles to the floor—All I wanted was just a little moreOne silver coin sings with a ring—I sold out The King of Kings—For anything a King would bringOne silver coin crashes—I took the money and He took the lashesOne silver coin shimmer—It’s the things of this world that glimmerOne silver coin of thirty—My hands are dirtyOne silver coin fall—This looser looses allOne silver coin bounces and flips—Trust is gone; I’ve lost my gripOne silver coin hits the wall—I took the money; He took the fallOne silver coin clashes another—I sold out my brotherOne silver coin dances in the spill—I stole from the poor; it’s a bitter pillOne silver coin with another, they meet—I betray with a kiss when I greetOne silver coin rolled alone—It spilt out upon the stoneOne silver coin numbered with many—Buried in the potter’s field, a death as good as anyOne silver coin spun in time—We dip together when we dine, His hand and mineOne silver coin teetered and swayed—Lies, death, greed, lust and idols persuadeOne silver coin drops in line—A coward coerced and without a spineOne silver coin follows the other—In the darkness of the darkness’s coverOne silver coin snags and shakes loose—Hangs in the bag like the betrayer’s nooseOne silver coin fell through the cracks—This one has a devil and the devil gives no take-backsOne silver coin snagged and delayed—The deed has been done; He was betrayedOne silver coin splashed and up it sprang—There from the branch despair would hangI’ve got 30 pieces of mePoured out on the ground for all to see
Robbie Pruitt
What are your “silver coins”, the coins that betray Life?

JUDAS: 30 PIECES OF SILVER

I’ve got 30 pieces of me
Wrapped up in sackcloth and misery
30 pieces of treachery
Silver pieces of sin and sorrow
Turning freedom into slavery
Stealing away my tomorrow
I’ve got 30 pieces of silver sin
Selling me out and trading me in
30 pieces of death and regret
Cheap trinkets and lies—I lost the bet
Without a doubt—I’ve got 30 pieces of selling out
Gambled with Life and sold Him strife!
This is what I’m all about
My life hangs in silver pieces
Death and judgment into eternity
I’ve got 30 pieces of me
One silver coin of self-flipping in the air—
No sense of concern; no empathy; no care
One silver coin of selfishness and apathy—
I led them to he garden at night, you see—
Darkness got the best of me
One silver coin of greed and tragedy—
A public spectacle for all to see
One silver coin slide—
I have nothing but my pride
One silver coin roll—
I’m a devil out of control
One silver coin of lies—
Deceit covered all eyes
One silver coin would just roll and roll—
Religion takes its toll; it sells the soul
One silver coin of shame—
I gave them His place and His name
One silver coin of lust—
I seek my own good, because I must
One silver coin tumbles to the floor—
All I wanted was just a little more
One silver coin sings with a ring—
I sold out The King of Kings—
For anything a King would bring
One silver coin crashes—
I took the money and He took the lashes
One silver coin shimmer—
It’s the things of this world that glimmer
One silver coin of thirty—
My hands are dirty
One silver coin fall—
This looser looses all
One silver coin bounces and flips—
Trust is gone; I’ve lost my grip
One silver coin hits the wall—
I took the money; He took the fall
One silver coin clashes another—
I sold out my brother
One silver coin dances in the spill—
I stole from the poor; it’s a bitter pill
One silver coin with another, they meet—
I betray with a kiss when I greet
One silver coin rolled alone—
It spilt out upon the stone
One silver coin numbered with many—
Buried in the potter’s field, a death as good as any
One silver coin spun in time—
We dip together when we dine, His hand and mine
One silver coin teetered and swayed—
Lies, death, greed, lust and idols persuade
One silver coin drops in line—
A coward coerced and without a spine
One silver coin follows the other—
In the darkness of the darkness’s cover
One silver coin snags and shakes loose—
Hangs in the bag like the betrayer’s noose
One silver coin fell through the cracks—
This one has a devil and the devil gives no take-backs
One silver coin snagged and delayed—
The deed has been done; He was betrayed
One silver coin splashed and up it sprang—
There from the branch despair would hang
I’ve got 30 pieces of me
Poured out on the ground for all to see

Robbie Pruitt

What are your “silver coins”, the coins that betray Life?

Filed under Judas silver coins betrayal painting poem Robbie Pruitt

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SPY WEDNESDAY
Wednesday in Holy Week

In Western Christianity the Wednesday before Easter is sometimes known as  ”Spy Wednesdayas a reference to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot, indicating that it is the day that Judas Iscariot first conspired with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus for thirty silver coins.

This event is described in the three Synoptic GospelsMatthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-12, Luke 22:3-6.

Here is Sydney Carter's, “Said Judas to Mary”.  I hope you find it worthy of a listen and a prayer. 

Filed under Spy Wednesday Judas Said Judas to Mary celtic music youTube