BY KRISANNE VAILLANCOURT MURPHY | March 31, 2021
Today’s Readings

Most of us have lived a lifetime associating the name Judas with the betrayer of our Savior for a mere 30 pieces of silver. The painter Caravaggio captured the shadowy, heavy moment that followed, when Judas embraced Jesus with a kiss and called him “Rabbi” only to confirm his presence for the captors. 

It is in this dark place today that we find ourselves in Jesus’ story—these final moments of Lent—bracing ourselves for the execution of an innocent man, our Lord, hung on a cross. 

Our Need for God’s Mercy, Judas

[Image: The Taking of Christ – Caravaggio via Wikimedia Commons]

Biblical scholars have long debated Judas’ motive for the betrayal: a wicked wrongdoer possessed by Satan or a greedy treasurer, to name a couple. Our temptation this Lent might be to categorize Judas as an arch-villain and quickly move past his treachery, longing for a sunnier Easter morning, the promise that an empty tomb brings, the glory of a Risen Jesus.

Not so fast.

We don’t get to Easter Sunday without dragging through this most difficult part of the story: the weight of sinfulness and our need for God’s mercy. Taking time to ponder a few “lesser known” characteristics of Judas can help us to see ourselves in this story and truly contemplate how it pertains to you and me.

Other details we know about Judas were that Jesus chose him; Judas left everything to follow Jesus. When Jesus spoke of the one who would betray him, Judas was not an obvious suspect. He was in Jesus’ inner circle. He was clearly loved by Jesus and the other Apostles, but also typical among them. This leaves us to understand that any devoted follower of Jesus is capable enough, or weak enough, to betray Him. It leaves us to reckon with the reality of our own sinfulness. Judas’ actions could have been played out by any of us. To paraphrase the apostle Paul: There but for the Grace of God go I (1 Cor 15:10). 

Writing off Judas as some distant arch-villain only impedes our ability to see our need for God’s mercy and forgiveness. Judas, overcome with guilt and grief, didn’t stick around to come to know the hope and light of Easter Sunday.  He wasn’t able to finally realize that no matter the magnitude of betrayal, harm or sin, God’s mercy prevails.

For Reflection: 

  • What lessons might we take from pondering betrayal for the way we are coming to understand mercy, forgiveness, and God’s endless ability to love?

5 replies
  1. Antonio J. Rodriguez
    Antonio J. Rodriguez says:

    Siempre he pensado que el mayor error de Judas , fue su creencia de que lo que había hecho era tan abominable,que jamás obtendría el perdón de Dios, no confio en la misericordia de Dios que Jesus le mostró en su caminar como discipulo, durante los tres años de su vida publica y se quito la vida. Craso error

    Translation
    I have always thought that Judas’ biggest mistake was his belief that what he had done was so abominable, that he would never obtain God’s forgiveness, he did not trust the mercy of God that Jesus showed him as he walked as a disciple, during the three years of his public life and he took his own life. Big mistake
    .

    Reply
  2. Dr Eileen Quinn Knight
    Dr Eileen Quinn Knight says:

    When one ponders Judas, one is filled with the issue of mercy. on the one hand, Jesus chose Judas as his friend as he did Peter. We see Peter accompanied by other disciples reaching to God for mercy and it is extended to him. We see Judas on the other hand, by himself pondering those issues of money and the wonder of what kind of kingdom he would be a part of, by himself. The mercy of God was there for both Peter and Judas. One reached out to others to help him repent. Often in our sinfulness we need the help of others, often the one offended, in order to repent. Today we hope our community will ask for God’s mercy and love to help transform our world that ‘seems to be on the edge of chaos’ but can reach for the mercy of our ever loving and merciful God.

    Reply
  3. Terence A Lover
    Terence A Lover says:

    This reflection is a good reminder that we are all human, make mistakes, need to accept responsibility for our actions and reconcile with others and God, and be ready to learn from our mistakes and continue the journey. We must acknowledge how we are often part of an adversarial situation without intending to be and must take time to reflect and ask forgiveness–petition Jesus to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. How grateful we should be for the example of Jesus in suffering for our sins and showing us his unconditional love. Peace!

    Reply
  4. Dr.Cajetan Coelho
    Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Nice thoughts. Thanks. Silver and gold, though good in many ways, have the potential to cut us off from ourselves, from our friends and relations and from the community. Such a situation is certainly not good for our health, physical or spiritual. Mahatma Gandhi would say: “It is health which is real wealth, and not pieces of gold and silver.”

    Reply

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