Today is known as Holy Wednesday. That name is obvious enough because it is, after all, Wednesday in Holy Week.
But its traditional name is Spy Wednesday. Why “Spy”?
It would be neat if history gave us some super-mysto reason behind it, but it hasn’t. And the reason it hasn’t is that the name comes from a very simple fact. This is the day on which Judas – sneaky guy that he was – became a spy for the Sanhedrin and agreed to betray His Lord and Savior for 30 pieces of silver. You can read about it in Matthew 26:12-14, Mark 14:10-12, and Luke 22:3-6. (Fat good that money did him.)
The Old Testament prophecy of Judas’ actions is in Zachariah 11:9-12.
I like one writer’s commentary on this: “As believers in the power of God’s love and goodness, Spy Wednesday should provide a period for reflection and introspective prayer. We need to examine our lives and look for the moments that we have falsely shared intimacy with our brothers and sisters in faith. More precisely, contemplate of lack of true, ‘communio’ in our lives. With Judas’ false interrogatory response to Jesus, he reveals his true self [“Surely it is not I, Rabbi”]: Betrayer. Jesus sees right through Judas’ false piety and friendship. Jesus sees right through our own appearances when we falsely present ourselves as holy and faithful followers. Our frail human spirit reflects in our sinful acts and lack of faith.
“Jesus recognizes this and offers new hope to Judas and us. The ‘morsel’ which Jesus offers to Judas is an offering of friendship and love. Some biblical scholars have even indicated that the ‘morsel’ is symbolic of Jesus’ eucharistic manifestation. Judas does not partake of the meal with Jesus, but he was invited just the same. There is a sense that Jesus recognizes Judas’ confrontation with the powers of evil. Jesus does not admonish him or chastise him. [Rather He] permits Judas to engage in this struggle and reveal the implications of his actions and unfaithfulness. There is hope for conversion. There is hope for grace. There is hope in Jesus’ acceptance of the Father’s plan. There is hope for Easter glory.”
Another writer adds an interesting note: “Today and during the Sacred Triduum, the Matins and Lauds of the Divine Office are often sung in a haunting service known as the Tenebrae service (‘tenebrae’ meaning ‘shadows’), which is basically a funeral service for Jesus.”
Whatever you call it, be it Spy Wednesday, Holy Wednesday, Great Wednesday, have a blessed day and a grace-filled Holy Week.
Oh, and don’t be like Judas. It won’t end well for you.