We are embarking on the journey of the Passion, and the Gospel readings for yesterday, today, and tomorrow all focus on Judas’ betrayal. Why?
Because we are all Judas, to some degree, and our fallen human nature is prone to walking away from the Lord Who is the Light of the world and into the night. These Scriptures should help us examine our own conscience, to see where we have betrayed God. Jesus did not come to tell us God’s rules or truths; Jesus came, fully God and fully man, to be the way for us, to die for each of us, and to entrust Himself to each of us personally. He IS Truth. Walking with Him in love IS the law! He came to give himself TO us and FOR us; God comes to dwell WITH us and IN us, to be our life and our strength and our virtue. He seeks a personal relationship with each of us, as Brother, Lord, and Friend!
In order to do this, Jesus “emptied himself, taking the nature of a slave” (Phil. 2:7), setting aside his omnipotence and glory. In His love affair with each of us, there is no dazzling force, no glorious coercion, no insistence beyond an irrevocable invitation and steadfast calling. We are asked to recognize a hidden God, an unassuming Savior, a defenseless Love, and to walk with Him in faith toward the open arms of the Father.
But there are many moments and circumstances in which we do not act faithfully, against our best knowledge and desire. In small and large ways, we betray Him for the small silver of some vanity or advantage or security, sometimes even for vengeance or hatred. We put our own sense of what is important and valuable ahead of what the Lord tells us is important and valuable.
As Fr. Romano Guardini said, “Judas himself unmasks us” (The Lord, 1954). In the treason of Judas, we see the possibility of our own betrayal; when we hear that “Satan entered him,” we are cautioned against allowing any treachery to become fixed in us, so that our hearts become sealed against the road back to true contrition and the way of self-giving love.
Jesus makes the invisible God visible for us, and he puts the infinite love of God on display, especially on the Cross. I heard once that Jesus’ love on the Cross would be like me sitting in the electric chair in place of the person who murdered my children, so that the murderer doesn’t have to suffer and die. This is superhuman, immeasurable, unfathomable love!
The Triduum is coming soon, and it will be historically unique for all of us. Being separated from the familiar rituals of the season gives us a tiny taste of the Cross. May we all bear this cross in the world for the sake of the world, and show our Christ-love in this patient offering.
Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including newly ordained Father Rob and seminarian Luke ;-), and two grandchildren. She is a Secular Discalced Carmelite and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 25 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE. Currently, she serves the Church as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio, by publishing and speaking, and by collaborating with the diocesan Office of Catechesis, various parishes, and other ministries to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is https://www.kathryntherese.com/.