You might be a Judas if…

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Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday, marks the remembrance of the Last Supper for many Christians around the world. Marking the first evening of the Holy Triduum, which culminates with Easter Sunday (or Resurrection Sunday as some refer to it), it is a night of much significance. The Institution of the Holy Eucharist as a perpetual fountain of Grace, the sealing of Christ’s Apostolic Succession for His Church, Acts of Mercy and Service in washing the disciples feet, and Acts of Betrayal insure the events that follow in the next three days will be profound. But, there is one act from this night that many have a hard time believing. How could someone, so close to Our Lord, betray Him?

“Surely it is Not I, Lord?”

It is a question asked by troubled hearts.

There is an answer that calms them.

The Sorrow of Peter vs the remorse of Judas

If you are a parent, teacher, or guardian of children then you likely have much experience with the graceful art of correction. Contrary to some beliefs, it is not always wise to be direct at first. Much like removing a band-aid from a wound, it is better to pull the scales off slowly than to pull too quickly, allowing pain to overshadow the moment of truth.

This was exactly what Jesus did when he first began speaking to his disciples days before the Last Supper. “One of you is a devil” (John 6:70). At that time not even Judas would have known whom Jesus was referring to.

Later, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, he declared: “You are clean, though not every one of you” (John 13:10). Jesus certainly knew who his betrayer was, just as he knows today who the unclean devils are among us.

There, in the intimacy of the Last Supper, Jesus tries again to move the unclean heart of Judas toward repentance. This time, he is more direct: “One of you will betray me” (Matthew 26:21).

Try to imagine the effect these words would have on the disciples hearts. Think of the last worship service or Mass you attended. The priest or leader stands up in front of the congregation and announces, “One of you here will betray Our Lord.” Are we not surrounded by faithful followers of Jesus? Have we not been among them day in and out living lives in communion through the sacraments and life of the church?  How could this be? And yet, they knew his words were true.

It was completely natural that under such examination of their hearts and great love for Jesus that being deeply grieved by their Rabbi’s words each disciple began to ask him, “Is it I, Lord?” While in their hearts they whispered, Please say No!

Let’s also give them credit for not finger-pointing right away. Remember, they had just finished arguing over who would be greatest among them. It would have been easy to start saying, “It must be him, he’s always been disloyal.” “No, it’s him, he never truly believed, remember how he doubted we could feed the crowd?” Instead, they took the Lord’s words to heart and looked inward. After examining their conscience, like King David, Saint Ignatius and others have taught us to do each day (See How to Make a Good Confession), their hearts grew sorrowful and became troubled and they looked for consolation from the Lord. They not only wanted to hear him say it wasn’t them, they needed to hear him say something, anything, even if it was the hard truth.

We need to hear from the Lord. We need his reassurance in our lives. If we ever depart from this need to hear His voice, we are lost.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” – John 10:27,28

There are more ways to betray Jesus than just the way Judas did. A teenager watches a friend get drunk on alcohol and thinks, Surely, I would not do that! A young man of devout purity considers the pre-marital actions of a couple he knows and he vows in his heart, Surely, Lord, I will not behave so impurely! A woman away at a company convention watches as another married woman slips off her wedding ring to enjoy some extra-marital fun and she exclaims, Surely, I would never!

It doesn’t really matter what the temptation or sin is we encounter, every one of us eventually asks, “Surely Not I, Lord?” And, in those moments, it doesn’t do any of us any good to look around and point out all the other Judas’ around us, because no matter how arrogant, selfish, ungrateful, unholy or unforgiving, another sinner is or their sin might be, we are each capable of the same. Any time we sin, we are betraying Jesus.

For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
– 1 Peter 1:16

We are kept from betraying Jesus only by the Grace of God.

So when troubled hearts turn to Jesus and they find the answer to their question is “Yes, it is you” they also find their peace, because Jesus does not leave us in our sin but invites us to join him at the table – to eat of his holy, unblemished bodyto drink of his sinless bloodAnd, to become holy, as he is holy.

Do this, as often as you can, in remembrance of me. – 1 Corinthians 11:24

Where Judas failed, and, at times, so many of us do, is when we approach this gift of grace and reject it.

Rather than accept Christ’s offering of body and blood, as a gift of grace, Judas drank of the cup and ate of the morsel of bread, and spurned the very grace which would have made him clean and holy. Unlike his fellow disciples, who humbled their hearts and, having received the grace offered them in the communion of bread and wine, inquired sincerely of the Lord; Judas’ heart, at that point, having sinned by rejecting God’s grace, had become so calloused he asked the question in pride. Like Adam and Eve, he tried to hide himself from God. And, out of his heart he condemned himself. “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). So the Lord answered him, “You have said so” (Matthew 26:25).

 

The Institution of Grace in the Eucharist

 

For the Beloved Disciple, Judas’ testimony can be a powerful witness of God’s grace and mercy at work in our lives.

You might be a Judas if…

You think you know better than God. (John 12:1-6)

You might be a Judas if…

You reject God’s authority and look for opportunities to undermine it and profit from it. (Matthew 26:1-16)

You might be a Judas if…

You can sit in the Lord’s presence, eat his body, drink his blood and deny his grace at work through them to make you holy – because you do not believe. (John 6:53-71)

You might be a Judas if…

You think betrayal is a form of true love, “I’m doing it because it is what’s best for them – It’s a necessary evil for their own good.” Even while Jesus calls you friend, you return his love with an unholy kiss. (Luke 22:48; Matthew 26:50; Romans 3:8)

You might be a Judas if…

You repent only unto yourself and not to the Lord. (Matthew 27:3)

Judas hangs himself a Son of Perdition

Although every one of us betrays God, “for [we] all have sinned and fall short of his glory” (Romans 3:23), what makes Judas’ betrayal different from Peter’s is that Peter repented to God and returned to Him, whereas, Judas repented only to himself and went the way of perdition (John 17:12). The weight of his sin and watching the consequences of it as the soldiers began to beat and bruise the Lord, no doubt, produced a form of shame and remorse in Judas’ heart, but recognizing our wrongdoing is not the same as repenting in sorrowfulness from our sinfulness. It is human nature to recognize wrong from right, hindsight is usually 20/20; it is grace, however, that allows our hearts to be moved back to closer union with God.  This is the gift we must receive from Jesus in order to say we, “repent and believe.”

We must believe that God loves us. We must believe that despite our shameful wrong choices, he still wants us to be part of him. We must believe in our hearts that he died and was resurrected to intercede for us always because he loves us. (Romans 5:8; 10:9,10; Hebrews 7:25)

In short, You might be a Judas if… You cannot receive God’s love for you.

Christ will forever labor to pull the band-aid off slowly that we might see him truly for who he is, the Messiah who loves us – the Savior of the world.

You might be a Judas, but if you are reading this and you truly believe in God’s love – you might just be a saint and so much more!

Believe in your heart, “The Lord loves me and by His grace, I just might be a saint!” and he will say to you, “You have said so.”

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:16,17

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