Prayers at Mid-day for Friday, 24 July, 2020 (Proper 16, Trinity 6)





O God, make speed to save us.


Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.



The Lord is our refuge and our strength:  O come, let us worship.


Hebrew Scriptures

Joshua 8.1-22 (The Israelites Fight the Five Kings)



Psalm 130


1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. 

2   Lord, hear my voice!

Let your ears be attentive

   to the voice of my supplications! 


3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,

   Lord, who could stand? 

4 But there is forgiveness with you,

   so that you may be revered. 


5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,

   and in his word I hope; 

6 my soul waits for the Lord

   more than those who watch for the morning,

   more than those who watch for the morning. 


7 O Israel, hope in the Lord!

   For with the Lord there is steadfast love,

   and with him is great power to redeem. 

8 It is he who will redeem Israel

   from all its iniquities.



Romans 15.14-24 (Paul’s Reason For Writing So Boldly)



Matthew 27.1-10

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus in order to bring about his death. 2They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor.

When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4He said, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.’ But they said, ‘What is that to us? See to it yourself.’ 5Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself. 6But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, ‘It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.’ 7After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners. 8For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, ‘And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set, on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price, 10and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.’


Commentary (Father Michael)


I doubt that Matthew meant for we his readers to spare much thought for the fate of Judas.   My guess is that Matthew felt the need to include the sad end of Judas (Luke and Mark say nothing about his death) simply because it reinforces his theme of how Jesus is the Messiah of prophecy.  In the Hebrew scriptures, thirty “shekels” of silver is mentioned by the prophet Zechariah as the value of the “shepherd of the flock doomed to the slaughter” (Zech 11.4-14).   For Matthew, making this the exact price for Jesus reinforces both the prophetic significance of Judas’ betrayal and the identity of Jesus as the one foretold in scripture.   Interesting, Mark and Luke say nothing about Judas’ suicide, neither do the specify the fate amount of his reward, which in their gospels is only described as an unspecified amount of “money” (Mk 14:11, Lk 22.5).  For Matthew, therefore, Judas’ psychological realism and motivation are unimportant.  The villain merely plays his part in the cosmic drama of Jesus confronting sin and death. 


It’s an interesting theological “what-if” question to ask what would have happened had Judas asked God for forgiveness.   Indeed, Matthew tells us that Judas does repent and recognize that he has sinned, which may prompt in us some sympathy.  For Matthew, however, Judas needs to play one more part in the narrative’s prophetic machinery, by hanging himself and the money then buying a potter’s field, though as my study bible notes, this is quite a stretch for Matthew, as there are only echoes of Jeremiah here and no one to one correspondence of details  (Jer 32.6-15, Jer 18.1-3,19.1-13). At the end of the day,  Judas’ significance or Matthew is to underscore Jesus’ destiny as the shepherd who is betrayed by Israel in order to bear its sin.


Nevertheless, the Passion narratives are fertile ground for repentance and changes of heart.  Beside Judas, who hangs himself in remorse, there is the centurion who recognizes, too late, that Jesus was innocent, and the thief on the cross who turns to Jesus and begs for salvation.   As the Catholic writer Richard Neuhaus liked to say, that thief was granted his place in heaven long before you or I will ever get there!    So perhaps wondering whether God would have had mercy on Judas is not out of bounds.  Indeed, our psalm selection for today, Psalm 130, is a powerful meditation on repentance. Had Judas sought forgiveness, his cry should would have come out the deepest depths imagined by the psalmist.    While we are conditioned by popular culture to think that every story needs the blackest of villains, we may well ask, is it truly beyond the mercy of God to think that at the end, even Judas found forgiveness and love?



Can you imagine God forgiving Judas?   If not, why not?  What other questions come to mind in today’s passages?




Let us pray in faith to God our Father, to his Son Jesus Christ, and to the Holy Spirit, saying, “Lord, hear and have mercy.”


For the Church of the living God throughout the world, let us ask the riches of his grace.  Today we pray in the Anglican Communion Cycle of Prayer for the clergy and people of the Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania (The Episcopal Church) and their bishop, The Rt Revd Sean Rowe, and the Diocese of Bethlehem (Pennsylvania), (The Episcopal Church) and their Bishop, The Rt Revd Kevin Nichols 


Lord, hear and have mercy.


For all who proclaim he word of truth, especially all who struggle to communicate the gospel within the isolation and restrictions of the pandemic, 

Lord, hear and have mercy.


For all who have consecrated their lives to the kingdom of God, and for all struggling to follow the way of Christ, let us all the gifts of the Spirit.

Lord, hear and have mercy.


For Elizabeth our Queen, for Justin our Prime Minister, and for all who govern the nations, that they may strive for justice and peace, let us ask the strength of God.

Lord, hear and have mercy.


For scholars and research workers, particularly for those working on treatments and a vaccine for Covid 19, and for all whose work seeks to benefit humanity, let us ask the light of the Lord.

Lord, hear and have mercy.


We pray to be forgiven our sins and set free from all hardship, distress, want, war, and injustice.

Lord, hear and have mercy.


For all who have passed from this life in faith and obedience,  and for all who have perished from Covid 19 and from diseases that went untreated because hospitals were overwhelmed, let us ask the peace of Christ.

Lord, hear and have mercy.



The Lord’s Prayer


Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.





Almighty God, your Son has opened for us a new and living way into your presence.  Give us pure hearts and constant wills to worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.   Amen.