Today is the final full day of Lent. Tomorrow we begin the Holy Triduum (The Great Three Days). As a final Lenten moment, the Church suggests we ponder the betrayal by Judas Iscariot, one of the inner circle. Poor Judas was doubtless a talented man, probably very astute, who was moved by idealism to follow Jesus; but when it came to the test, he proved unreliable, profoundly untrustworthy. The Gospels offer some clues about what led to that ultimate act of treachery: selling Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. We might even feel a twinge of pity for Judas, about whom those chilling words were spoken, “It would have been better for that man not to have been born!” But rather than spend time trying to assess the level of Judas’ guilt, or guessing at his motivations, why not ponder how we ourselves can be untrustworthy and in need of repentance. The story of Judas is a sobering lesson for every reader. “There but for the grace of God go I!” we may well say.
The fate of Judas invites us to pray, especially for those who have ever sought to escape from the depths of despair. So, for example, we do well to pray that those tempted to suicide may find compassion and new hope with the help of their friends. We know we must remain vigilant when it comes investing some of our time to just listen to others in their time of need. Given the example of Jesus, each of us could ask the Lord God to help us be healers who share the gift of encouragement, “that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word,” as Isaiah told us last weekend.
Note that the four Gospel writers were painfully aware that Jesus was handed over by one of His friends. But while this was embarrassing, they made no attempt to gloss over the fact. When Jesus predicted that one of them would betray Him, all were “greatly distressed.” The idea of betrayal alarmed the whole circle of His friends.
Reflection for today: Any of us can have a painful experience of betrayal. Perhaps we confided in someone who later used our personal secrets against us. The “message of this day” is that malice need not have the last word; God had the last word by raising His Son from the dead. From this betrayal and the many other injuries suffered by Jesus, God brought great good. Good can also emerge from any of the misfortunes we have to bear in life. The story of Judas invites us to trust that God can work in life-giving ways in and through us, no matter how others may treat us.
Let us pray. “Lord, let us be with you this week. Open our hearts to experience what you want us to experience. Help us to discover anew your immense love for us. Amen.”