Wednesday, April 4, 2012

On Being Judas

Judas is a character we want to distance ourselves from.  He did a terrible thing.  He delivered our Lord into the hands of those who would kill him.  He set the story into motion.  He was the betrayer.  That is how history will remember him.  Surely, I would never do such a thing.  I would never betray my Lord in such a way.  I could never be Judas.  Yes, that seems comfortable.

But, really, what did Judas do?  He made a choice.  He chose his own selfish desires over his Lord.  Maybe he didn't really believe that Jesus was the Son of God.  Or maybe he was trying to make Jesus be someone he wasn't- a political leader who would fight his way to justice and become a great king for Israel.  Or maybe he just really wanted 30 pieces of silver.  We don't know his motivation, but one thing is clear.  He made a choice- he chose his selfish desires over his Lord.  And that choice put the story in motion.  That choice started Jesus' terrible journey to the cross on that night.  We all know that Jesus' sacrifice was God's will but to be the one who set the circumstances in motion is not a good thing.  The consequences of Judas' choice were dire and heart wrenching and when Judas looked at the blood on his hands, he ended his own life.

Whether you choose to believe it or not, we are faced with similar choices in our lives.  We must choose between God and money.  We must choose between God and popularity.  We must choose God's will over our own desires.  And when we fail, we are no better than Judas.  We are doing exactly what he did. We are taking the money in exchange for the life of God.  We are carrying out our own agenda by handing the Lord over to the wolves.  No, we are no better than Judas.  But we have something Judas didn't have.  Perspective. We have the benefit of knowing that the Lord died in order to forgive our sins.  He died so he can give us his life and gather us to himself for eternity.  He died because he knew we were all like Judas but he loved us anyway.  This perspective is a great gift.  Because instead of seeing the blood on our hands, Jesus washes it away.  All we have to do is ask him.  That great love is what Judas didn't understand.

As we embark on the last few days of Holy week, I invite you to reflect on the ways in which you have been Judas.  It is not easy to admit that we have sold out the Lord.  It is not easy to admit that we betrayed the one who gave us everything.  But, when we admit what we have done, and the priest says those words of absolution, we are forgiven.  We are made clean.  We are reconciled with the Lord.  And there is no greater joy than to be in the presence of the Lord with a clean heart.  Don't continue to be Judas and let the sin destroy your soul and rob you of the love of God.  There is still time to make the right choice.

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