Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Self-Centeredness Behind the Deaths of Jesus and Judas

 “It always amazes me that at the Last Supper, when Jesus said, ‘One of you will betray me,’ that no one knew who it was,” Msgr. Thomas Richter said during a Holy Week homily.  Such secrecy, he pointed out, is what led to Judas’s betrayal of Christ.  
All of Christendom thinks “betrayer” at the name of Judas. Yet, while the 12 apostles reclined with him at the Last Supper table, no one suspected Judas. 
         “It was because of his secrecy,” Msgr. Richter explained.  “Instead of admitting he was struggling with how Jesus was handling things, rather than go to Jesus and tell him he didn’t agree with him, Judas kept it inside and behaved as if everything was fine with him.”   How could he have chosen Satan over Jesus?
        Msgr. Richter explained that Judas could have reached outside of himself for help but instead, he remained self-focused and decided himself how to handle his doubts in Jesus.  And then later, when Judas could have been an example of the greatest act of mercy for betraying Jesus, instead of turning to God, he turned to himself.
        In Matthew 27: 3 Judas deeply regretted what he had done. “He returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.’” But instead of repenting to God, he repented to himself, Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen explained in his book, Life of Christ.
         Bishop Sheen contrasted Peter and Judas’s remorse in his book by explaining that the one unforgiveable sin is that against the Holy Spirit which is the sin of final impenitence. We must be sorry for our sins in order for God to forgive them. Turning our remorse inward leads to despair because we cannot forgive our sin. Only God can do that. 
We actually do not know for certain that Judas was impenitent up until his last breath, but only that he gave into despair and hung himself. Peter, by contrast, repented his betrayal of Christ and was forgiven.
Ven. Sheen explained that Judas’s sorrow was about himself.  Scripture does not show that Judas attempted to save Jesus, only that he had a bad conscience, which he attempted to relieve by returning the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.
Outsiders often talk about Catholic guilt but no one is supposed to live with guilt.  Jesus gave us a remedy for that.  We are invited to the Sacrament of Confession, to repent to God and have our sins absolved.   Every sin is a betrayal of Jesus, but rather than turning to self, we can be forgiven.


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