Good Wednesday

Wednesday in Holy Week, Spy Wednesday or Good Wednesday

Wednesday of Holy Week is sometimes called Spy Wednesday, when we commemorate the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, one of the 12 disciples.

On the Wednesday before his death, Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the Leper. As he sat at the supper table with his disciples, a woman named Mary anointed Jesus’ head and feet with a costly oil of spikenard. The disciples were indignant, asking why the oil was not instead sold and the money given to the poor. But Judas Iscariot wanted to keep the money for himself. Then Judas went to the leading body of the Jews, the Sanhedrin and offered to deliver Jesus to them in exchange for money. From this moment on, Judas sought an opportunity to betray Jesus.

Prior to the Second Vatican Council, the Church celebrated the Tenebrae liturgy in the evening of Good Wednesday. Tenebrae means darkness. In this service, all the candles on a special candelabra and the altar were gradually extinguished except for one, which was hidden and the church left in complete darkness. Next, after recitation of Psalm 50 (51) and a prayer, a loud noise (in Latin strepitus) was made, which originally signalled for the ministers to depart but was later interpreted as symbolizing the confusion and terror that accompanied the death of Jesus, including the earthquake that, according to the Gospel of Matthew 27:51, followed.