As the Lent Madness faithful are fully aware, voting for the Golden Halo takes place tomorrow, on the Wednesday of Holy Week. You may have heard the Supreme Executive Committee refer to this day as “Spy Wednesday.” They mentioned this day several times in this week’s episode of Monday Madness. Unlike many terms associated with the saintly smackdown, the SEC did not, in fact, make up this name on a whim, unlike Scott trying to convince you that yesterday was Nard Monday and today is Grain Tuesday. Thus, as several of you have asked us about this unusual name for the Wednesday in Holy Week, we thought we’d shed some light on this.
First of all, Spy Wednesday does not refer to James Bond, the Cold War, or even the famous Spy vs. Spy comic strip popularized by Mad Magazine (though there is an uncanny resemblance here to Tim and Scott).
Spy Wednesday gets its name because it is the day on which Judas betrayed Jesus to the Sanhedrin. Because Judas is thought to be sneaky, his actions conjured up the image of a spy. The synoptic gospels all include an account of the betrayal — Matthew 26:12-14, Mark 14:10-12, Luke 22:3-6.
This is how the Gospel of Luke recounts the events:
Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present. (Luke 22:3-6)
The icon here evocatively depicts this infamous scene of dark spy-like conspiracy. If you enter fully into every day of Holy Week, the Gospel readings provide the narrative of Jesus’ final days, an ever-quickening story that spins out of control and finally brings us to Good Friday.
It is surely a strange juxtaposition to think about Spy Wednesday and Lent Madness in the same moment. But the whole point of Lent Madness is to engage us all in an exploration of the ways God’s grace has filled the lives of women and men through history and across all cultures. Sure, we’ve been silly and even competitive about our Lenten exercise. In the end though, we are learning to see in fresh ways how Jesus Christ matters to all humanity. That seems like a good and holy thing to do on Spy Wednesday.