Wednesday – The Cross and the Betrayal of Christ

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Wednesdays and Fridays of the Orthodox week are always observed more solemnly than other days in terms of fasting and prayer. The use of these days in this manner can be dated as early as the first century. The Didache, a Palestinian Christian document as old as many parts of the New Testament but not included in the canon, mentions fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays and contrasts it to the Jewish (Pharasaic) practice of fasting on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Regardless of the reasons those days may have been observed as days of fasting in the first century, Tradition quickly associated them with the Cross (Friday especially) and Wednesday with the betrayal and sufferings of Christ (although in Holy Week the betrayal of Christ occurs, it seems, on Thursday).

Nonetheless as Tradition has handled Wednesday – the pace of the week changes. Our thoughts turn to the fact that we were bought with a price – nothing other than the self-sacrificial love of God on the Cross. Our own lives are so far removed from this self-sacrifice that we do well to stop and remember this sacrifice frequently. Indeed St. Paul told the Corinthians that he had determined to know nothing among them “except for Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

I have frequently wondered how many conversations we would have were we standing at the foot of the Cross. Not that we would not have conversations – but how the conversations would change. The whole world stands before the foot of the Cross whether it chooses to see it or know it and all that happens will be judged by that standard. The only word of judgment from the Cross itself, of course, is “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” But even that word of forgiveness judges us (or we put ourselves into judgement) as the banality of our concerns turn to ashes before the love of God made manifest.

What can I say before the Cross other than to echo the words spoken there? To admit that I thirst and that God, in His love, thirsts for me, though I refuse to give Him drink. That everything is finished, all is accomplished, and yet I live as though Christ had not already gained every victory and made all things well. That I am part of the family of God, loved by His Mother whom He has given to His Church and adopted as God’s son by so great a love. What more could we say or want to know?

Wednesday in the world is known as the “hump,” the middle of the week when we “get over the hump.” In too many ways we get over the hump by selling Christ for silver. You work out the metaphor.

It is Wednesday – time to eat less – to pray more – to stand before the Cross – to keep my eyes and hands away from the silver the world would give me. Better to starve than to eat the bread of the wicked.

Comments

  1. bob says

    Father, I’m glad you mentioned the Didache. We have to recall it was discovered pretty recently, and the devotional stuff written to explain “why” we fast on Wed & Fri is just plain groping. As you say, somehow it was comemmorating the Betrayal on the day *before* it happened, and the Crucifixion the day it *did*. The Didache reasoning is simplicity itself.

  2. T says

    Hey Father Stephen,

    I was curious about something. After listening to your “conversion testimony,” going from Anglicanism to Orthodoxy, from the Anglican Coloquium on ancient faith radio, I wanted to know what was so scary about beginning to live in and with your heart. Do you have a post about that somewhere? Somewhere in the archives here?

  3. Kerry says

    Father Stephen –
    I have been searching through your blog for anything to do with the new articles on the Vatican-Orthodox “agreement” that recognizes “the pope has primacy over all bishops but disagrees over just what authority that gives him.” My brother pulled up bunch of newly released associated press statements. Any chance of responding before I leave Wyoming tomorrow? My brother is very curious (as am I now).
    Thanks.
    Kerry