Scripture: A reading from the Gospel of Luke (22:47-53)
While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; but Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?’ When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, ‘Lord, should we strike with the sword?’ Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple police, and the elders who had come for him, ‘Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a bandit? When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness!’
Judas wasn’t a stranger. He didn’t exist outside of the group. He belonged. Jesus reminded the group of that by washing the feet Judas at the Last Supper.
Despite the years spent alongside Jesus and his friends, something changed for Judas. His understanding of who Jesus was and what this means for the Jewish community became distorted to the point that he agreed to participate in the arrest of Jesus. From the texts we have available to us, we can’t really say that we know Judas’ intentions. Perhaps he trusted that Jesus would be protected, and his arrest would initiate the revolution for which Judas longed. Perhaps he felt Jesus was no longer in control of his popularity and that it needed to be contained before something violent happened. Perhaps he was a thief who was happy to be paid for a kiss.
To ponder the motives of Judas is to create space through which we might consider the extent to which our behaviour might be a betrayal of our faith. How might we recognise people of faith turning away from God despite their participation in the life of the Church? What attitudes, behaviours and practices serve to distort the message of the Gospel in ways that need healing? How might we be more faithful examples as followers of Jesus?
Prayer: God our help, your Son was betrayed by one who called himself a friend. May we who call him Lord ever remain his faithful people, for he lives and reigns with you now and for ever. Amen. (BAS p. 303)
Next: Stop 7: The Denial