Daily Reflection
March 19th, 2008

Jeanne Schuler

Philosophy Department
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Judas and the Rest of Us

Children are rarely named after that apostle. Judas betrayed Jesus and from that deed the passion unfolds. These companions shared meals and faced danger together. Breaking the bonds of trust, the traitor becomes an outcast and even his name is shunned. “Surely it is not I, Lord” bursts from us all. The raw pain of betrayal seems final.

In Dante’s vision of hell, persons are punished in monstrous ways that mimic their sins. In the inferno’s depths, almost nothing human remains. All is silent except for the endless flapping of Lucifer’s wings that entombs sinners in ice. Dante reserves this frozen state for traitors and names it after Judas, who is being crushed in the monster’s jaws.

Let’s imagine that Judas was not so different from us. He knew the feel of money from watching over their small treasury. Perhaps he had secret debts or pined for things that would make his eyes dance. In his weakness he made a deal without much thought for the consequences. Jesus’ trial and sentence stunned him. This was not what he planned.

As children, we learn that Judas betrayed Jesus twice. Tormented by his fault, Judas was sure that nothing this foul could be forgiven. Love could not stretch this far. Like the unbroken beat of Lucifer’s wings, he clung to his guilt and abandoned his friend again.

Jesus turns no one away. He is no stranger to brokenness and is not surprised by failure. We bring emptiness to the table during Holy Week as our prayer. In your presence, we learn how short is the distance from the grotesque to beauty.

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