Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, “Surely it is not I, Lord?” – Matthew 26:22
Have you ever been betrayed? Do you still remember how you felt? You can still feel the hurt and the tears like it was just yesterday, right?
It’s an awful feeling we never want to experience. Backstabbed by the people close to you, nothing is worse than losing trust and being so miserably disappointed with a loved one.
Maybe that’s how Jesus felt when Judas gave Him away. Heart-wrenching and gut-twisting. In His mind, the Master might have shouted. “How could you?”
Once more we encounter Judas in today’s Gospel. I have tried to look at Judas from different angles to find a lesson for me. I find it easy to identify with Peter, but I would never want to be identified with Judas. And yet, there are parallels.
Jesus chose Judas and not another man as the twelfth apostle. He drew him into His closest circle of friends and showed him His love. Jesus gave him a great responsibility in the group of disciples—to manage the common fund, as a treasurer! Similarly, I was chosen to be a disciple and friend of Jesus; I feel His love for me, and He has given me the great responsibilities of a disciple.
Jesus was gentle with Judas during the Last Supper and called him “friend” when he brought the soldiers to arrest Him. I have experienced the same kindness of Jesus —how often did He treat me as a friend when I hurt and betray Him with my sins?
Judas followed Jesus, as I do. He had listened to Jesus, as I do. He was ready to give three years of his life to be with Jesus. The same with me, in fact, more than three years already!
Here I wish the comparison would end. What can Judas teach me so that I do not do the last terrible step—betray my Lord?
Judas heard Jesus but did not listen. He was not ready to do what Jesus taught. He nourished evil instead of accepting Jesus’ repeated call for repentance.
Repentance and ongoing conversion then must be my first step, repeated again and again over the years. I must be brutally honest with myself, admit my evil tendencies and allow Jesus to heal me. I have to ask the Lord to support me in this difficult step from evil to good, to help me deepen my faith and let my love for Him grow. I have to ask Him to support me in my struggle to let the friendship He offers grow in me. In other words, I stay in constant communication with Him, always knowing that without Him I can do nothing. For I know that without Him I might eventually do the last step Judas made.
This Holy Week, and for the rest of our lives, what concrete steps can you take so as to deepen your friendship with Jesus?
Lord, You offer me Your friendship, even though I cause Your spirit to be troubled. Help me to never betray You or turn against You. Let me always live worthy of the fact that You have chosen me, unworthy as I am. Amen.