At supper with his friends, Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples– the one whom Jesus loved– was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once.” (John 13:21-32 NRSV).
I have on various occasions struggled with Judas. Traditionally, Judas is the one who betrayed Jesus. Such is written in Sacred Scripture. On the other hand, Judas also did what God wanted him to do in helping to bring about the salvation of the world through Christ, did he not? Is it possible that we are missing the point?
As I searched for images of Judas to use for this blog post, the only ones I could find depict him kissing Jesus in betrayal. A loving gesture with an ulterior motive. Our problem is that we are focusing on Judas, when the person who really did the most loving thing in the story is Jesus. Our Gospel story of Jesus at the table with Judas, as well as the scene during which he kisses Jesus all tell us something very important. Jesus still loved Judas.
As we meditate on this Holy Wednesday as we prepare to begin the Sacred Triduum of Easter, we might reflect just a bit on how committed are we to love everyone around us. Do we give others, even those with whom we are in conflict a true kiss of peace? Do we accept and love those who give kind gestures to us with ulterior motives?
What example of Jesus will we give today?
Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB