Fr. Patrick Sheridan, O.S.B.
We often think that Judas must have been different—obviously worse than the other disciples. But if that were true they all would have assumed that Judas was the one Jesus was talking about when he said, “One of you will betray me.” They would have thought, “Oh yeah– it’s Judas. He’s a bad one. I don’t know why Jesus even picked him.” Instead it doesn’t seem that Judas stood out as any worse than the others. If he did they would have suspected him immediately. But there was something going on within Judas that did set him apart from the others. And Jesus knew it.
We’re told that all of the disciples were deeply distressed. Each of them said, “Surely, it is not I, Lord!” Only one of them, Judas, said, “Surely, it is not I, Rabbi.”
Eleven of the apostles were able to call Jesus “Lord.” Only Judas didn’t. He couldn’t bring himself to say “Lord.” He didn’t have the faith required to recognize in Jesus the divine lordship. Judas only saw a rabbi, a teacher; and there were many rabbis and teachers around at that time.
There was a great darkness in Judas— the darkness of Satan. And that darkness rendered him unable to see Jesus for who he was; so he would sell him out and hand him over. Judas couldn’t comprehend how God’s presence could be in such a man- who was about to suffer, be tortured and die. Later, Judas would despair of God’s mercy. There was indeed a great darkness in him.
After all Jesus had said and done in such an evident way, even still, Judas was blinded and lost his faith.
We too are in darkness sometimes, aren’t we? We think that we’re no worse than most people; probably better than some. But we too sometimes fail to recognize Jesus, especially in the suffering of the world and its people. We too would rather betray and abandon him when we are confronted by fear, suffering, distress. Sometimes darkness can overtake us; sometimes we sin; but we, unlike Judas, must never despair of God’s mercy. That mercy is what Lent is all about. And this Friday, Good Friday, we will experience the extent of God’s mercy and his love. And the Good news for us is that it’s infinite.