His name has become synonymous with traitor. Judas Iscariot, whose entrance onto the Lenten stage occurs in the Gospel from John, yesterday, and from Matthew, today, calls for a sobering reflection in our Lenten itinerary of conversion. Down through the centuries, shame and insult have been heaped upon him for his betrayal of the Lord. His own personal shame led to his suicide as the Gospel relates. Rarely do we reflect on the fact that, like the other apostles, Judas too was attracted to the mission and ministry of the Master. Jesus undoubtedly called him with his words of ‘come and see’ to his inquiring heart. He was part of that inner circle of companionship with whom the Master shared his hopes and dreams as well as his disappointments and frustrations. We cannot help but wonder, what was the root cause of his betrayal? What was the darkness that engulfed his life that would lead him to betray the Lord with a sign of affection and love, a kiss?
Before our imaginations go into overdrive, the unsettling reality in the tragic Judas story is the fact that sadly, there is a bit of Judas in all of us. The tragedy among so many Christians is the fact that the Good News is just too good to be true. Wavering doubt in the promise of the Gospel can lead many of us into the delusion of thinking that we might be able to ‘get a better deal somewhere else.’ Unlike the Prodigal son who came to his senses and sought the unfailing healing mercy of the Father, Judas despaired. The evil one seduced him into believing that so great a sin was outside the ambit of God’s forgiving love. That is, of course, the difference between the betrayal of Judas and Peter’s denial of the Lord. Judas’ despair closed his heart to the Lord’s healing and loving touch of mercy and forgiveness. Peter, realizing his sin of denial, wept bitterly and humbly sought a new beginning from the Lord of life in his threefold response of love.
As the Lenten Season will soon draw to a close and the Paschal Triduum begins, may whatever darkness that may tempt us to limit God’s unfailing mercy, give way to the light of his love that is without end.