Perhaps the greatest tragedy about Judas is not his decision to betray Jesus but his obstinate refusal to repent and accept the mercy and love of God. Did he not hear our Lord’s words in the parable of the Lost Sheep, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance?” (Luke 15:7).
Yet the Gospels say Judas did “repent.” “He repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying ‘I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.’ They said, ‘What is that to us? See to it yourself” (Matthew 27:3-4). The chief priests and the elders were incapable of offering the forgiveness Judas was needed. Still, he does not turn towards Jesus for forgiveness, and immersed in the selfishness of his sins, “he went and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5).
Are we anything like Judas? Too prideful to seek God’s forgiveness because we are convinced our own sins are too great? Has our selfishness blinded us to God’s unfathomable mercy? Do we even believe anymore that God can forgive us and that he wants to?
If Judas would have allowed him, Jesus would have forgiven him as he forgave so many others before him. Jesus did not love Judas because he was a perfect man, nor did he love the prostitutes, tax collectors and other sinners because they were perfect. He accepted their brokenness and their pain, and rather than run from it in disgust, Jesus stepped into the filth of their lives to reveal their own dignity to than and marvel at the greatness and love of God who came so that we “may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
Was this truth too great for Judas? Is it too great for us?
God bless you,
Dc. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
St. Leopold Friary, Yonkers, New York