At the Last Supper, there was a mystery among the apostles. When Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me,” the apostles were mystified. “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?” they asked.
"The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me,” Jesus told them. How was it not obvious to the other apostles?
“Villain” is on our minds every time Judas shows up, yet, it was not obvious to the apostles. Despite an unbelieving and treacherous heart, Judas had managed to fit in.
In a recent homily by Father Thomas Richter, he compared this situation to the Austin, Texas bomber. Mark Anthony Conditt was another man who managed to fit in despite a murderous heart. He blew himself up after 19 days of terror, leaving bombs outside of homes that killed two people and wounded several others.
No one suspected Conditt of such horror because he, like Judas, lived a duplicitous life. In Conditt’s taped cell phone confession made hours before he was confronted by a SWAT team, he described himself as a psychopath and expressed no remorse for the killings. But when it was revealed that he was the bomber, people were shocked. How could such a friendly guy, who waved to neighbors and was raised in a Christian home, commit such evil?
One relative stated: “Our family is a normal family in every way. We love, we pray, and we try to inspire and serve others. Right now, our prayers are for those families that have lost loved ones, for those impacted in any way, and for the soul of our Mark."
As we learn more, perhaps like with Judas, hindsight will be 20/20, but from what we know now, Conditt seemed like a normal guy. “His behavior wasn’t that different from anyone around him,” Msgr. Richter pointed out. “Like Judas, people were at a loss for who it could be.”
The problems according to Msgr. Richter, was not the behavior but the heart. “We need to live in a place prior to behaviors,” he explained. “Jesus said that it is in the heart that we act.” We can have nice behavior to cover up the heart, according to him, but we can never cover it up to Jesus. “That is why Jesus came to save us. That is where he heals and saves us—through the heart. But we need enough faith to bring our hearts to Jesus. That’s all Judas had to do.”
Most of us are not tempted to become bombers and yet, our own hearts are in need of constant conversion. They are vulnerable to wounds and resentments so that even when we manage cordial behavior, it is not always in union with our hearts.
God made our hearts for love. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love,” 1 Corinthians 13:13.
Talking about love is so easy, but how do we find such love for those who have hurt us or when we feel envious or resentful in some way? The Church tells us how. We are to love others as we love ourselves. We need to desire the good of another and pray for them, that God’s will shall be done in their lives.
Make our prayers for others about God and satisfying his desires and it gets easier to look past imperfect feelings. And we can pray for love, asking God to fill our hearts with it, so that our hearts and our actions will be a symphony of Christian living rather than the duplicity of Judas.
For more inspiration check out Patti's latest book: Holy Hacks: Everyday Ways to Live Your Faith & Get to Heaven. Other books include: Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families and the best-selling Amazing Grace Series.