Monday, March 17, 2008


Wednesday’s Gospel records Jesus and his closest friends celebrating the Last Supper. In the midst of the meal Jesus drops a bombshell: “One of you will betray me.” The disciples are all stunned, they look at each other in disbelief, which one of them could Jesus be talking about? “Lord is it I?” No one points the finger, each one knows his capacity for failure. Jesus hit a nerve.

Judas quietly leaves the room, he does not arouse any suspicion. He was above suspicion otherwise the rest of the disciples would have never allowed him to leave the room in one piece. Judas was so ordinary, just as ordinary as each of us. Judas was called and chosen as are we. Judas enjoyed the trust of his friends. At the table he sat in an honoured place close to Jesus. Judas?? How could he betray Jesus?

I think of Peter, under pressure in the courtyard, swearing “I do not know the man.” I think of the disciples running away in the Garden of Gethsemane, not showing up at Calvary and stubbornly refusing to believe reports of Jesus’ resurrection. Judas’ betrayal is different in degree, not in kind to our betrayals. Judas was not the first or the last to betray Jesus, he was simply the most famous.

What redeems the Passion and its most powerful message is that the love of Jesus never wavered especially towards the people who betrayed him. When Judas led the bloodthirsty mob into the Garden, Jesus addressed him as “Friend.” His own people condemned him to death, yet while hanging outstretched on the Cross, a symbol of ultimate disgrace and shame, his last prayer was for all of us, “Father, forgive them.” Never was Jesus more human. His humanity enters into and speaks to all that is good and noble in the human heart.

What makes us human like Jesus is not our mind but our heart, not our capacity to think but our capacity to love.