Judas – Devil or Angel?
April 16, 2014
1st Reading: Isaiah 50:4-9a
Response: Psalm 70
2nd Reading: Hebrews 12:1-3
Gospel: John 13:21-32
Oh God, come to my assistance; Lord, make haste to help me.
My Sisters and Brothers;
Today, I think, I am going to turn things around just a little bit. I am going to dive right into the Gospel message and then end on a lighter note; in all honesty, our Gospel is fairly dark. We do, however, need to honor the journey and focus on what is happening at this moment in the Celebration of the Word.
Today we bring into our minds the account of Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, but there is a very small snippet of information I feel is overlooked every time this story is told – (John 13:27) “After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” The intimation in this verse is that Judas was possessed and not in control of his own actions or deeds. The opposite, of course, could also be true – perhaps, just maybe, Judas was evil all along and Jesus was smarter than Judas thought. But aside from arguing whether or not Judas is evil and condemned for all time think about this: what if Judas had never handed Jesus over to the guards? What if, instead, Jesus lived? Think about it for a moment.
Now think about this: would you listen to a modern news report of a man who walked from town to town healing the sick and nurturing the poor, or would you instead take notice of a man who did those things, but was now being condemned and put to death for healing others? In today’s world of instant news and instant gratification we call such a thing “sensationalism,” but sadly, it works. That is just how we humans sit up and take notice. That’s how we remember important events – by the controversy surrounding said events.
Did Judas do a bad thing, or was he actually a herald who showed the world who the Christ really was? Was Judas a betrayer, or was he the betrayed? All Judas did was point (or kiss) the Divine human who was the proclaimed Son of God.
Perhaps we have this whole Judas thing wrong. Perhaps Judas was a herald announcing the new era of the Redeemer – the Son of the Almighty God – the Christ. Maybe, just maybe, Judas had no choice. Maybe he HAD to deliver the “good news” to the rest of the world through a sensational act. If Judas did NOT turn the Christ over to the soldiers would we today know about the resurrection? Would there have even been a resurrection if there hadn’t been a passing from this world?
Look, we spend so much time condemning that we forget the other possibilities – the ones of greatness – the proclamations. Judas was no worse than any of his fellow disciples and yet history portrays him as evil and soulless – despite that there is evidence pointing to Judas other than this betrayal story.
The other disciples rejected the Christ by claiming they had no idea who he was. Even after His resurrection, they still denied his very existence until he showed them his wounds; yet this Judas person proclaimed to the world that not only did he know him, but then showed the world who was the Man born Divine so there could be no question of His existence.
Without Judas the Gospel messages may have never been fulfilled. Why exactly is that a bad thing? Even our Christ tells him to go and do what he MUST do. Why then can’t we accept that Judas too had a role to play in the Divine script? Something else to consider: was Judas also forgiven? Didn’t the Christ suffer, die and resurrect for ALL sins?
Was Judas a devil or an angel? What is it you teach: hatred or love?
With that in mind, let’s go back to our first reading for a moment. We are teachers, preachers, healers, and lovers. We are constantly listening for the Word of God – the presence of the Christ in our midst – so that we might be able to share what we learn and participate in the celebration of life eternal. But what is it we are teaching – what we want to see or what we are called to see? Is there a difference? How can I not preach what I have experienced in my own life and how can others not do the same?
We are, each of us, called to be present to all aspects of our being, yet we readily deny those aspects of ourselves which make us uncomfortable. We cast away those parts of our being which are natural and instinctive, while at the same time trying to force others to live in the shadows of some contrived sense of perfection. One of the greatest beings of our history is made to look like a monster because he did what he was supposed to do – announce to everyone the beginning of the new world through the birth and coming resurrection of the Christ, our Messiah. Judas told the world exactly who the Christ was – and is. It was up to the people at that point to either love Him or destroy him. Judas didn’t kill Jesus – the people who professed to love Him did – and still do.
Have we really heard the real message of the Christ’s life and ministry, or are we again forcing our own perceptions and interpretations onto something which could have important implications in our lives? What do we teach through our actions? How do we show the world around us what we have discovered through the loving and FORGIVING God?
(Isaiah 50:5) “The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I did not turn backward.” I hear you my God, and I am here.
In the name of the Creator God, the Redeemer Son, and the Sanctifying Spirit. +Amen