Short background notes based on the New Jerome Biblical Commentary (NJBC) and the footnotes of the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB), primarily meant for this parish. Not intended as instant sermonettes, simply starting points for a brief explanation of the readings at weekday Mass. Disagreement may be more useful. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Judas appears in all three Gospel readings before the Triduum, but as a background figure. The core of the readings prepare for the full revelation from God through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Isaiah 42. 1 – 7
The first servant song. The servant songs are a subject in themselves. Here the contrast is between the divine justice established by the servant and the military domination of Cyrus.
John 12. 1 – 11
All the evangelists give this incident, with variations. Here the contrasts are between Mary and Judas, the shallow but benign curiosity of the crowd and the determination of the chief priests.
Isaiah 49. 1 – 6
The second servant song. This continues with the task of the servant, but adds that he is predestined by God and that his work entails failure. Together the focus is on vocation, which our faith makes a factor in the lives of everyone but which is lived out perfectly by Christ.
John 13. 21 - 33, 36 – 38
This reading follows the foot-washing and omits the command to love one another, new not as a command but because of its degree and purpose.
St John is the only evangelist who describes Jesus handing the morsel to Judas. Jesus is still in charge; he dismisses Judas.
Isaiah 50.4 – 9
The third servant song. More about what he suffers than what he does.
Matthew 26. 14 – 25
Judas’ betrayal and the Passover meal.
Apparently it is very likely that the Passover itself would be kept on the Friday. Thus the Passover supper on the Thursday would have been on Jesus’ initiative, grafting the sacramental rites on to the old Passover (NJB).