Mercy for a Traitor

Categories: Features

Today, we are entering into the mystery of Holy Week, the most significant week in the liturgical year, the week in which God shows his ineffable mercy and love. I decided to check the upcoming liturgical readings and what I found really surprised me. From the very beginning of Holy Week, that is, from Palm Sunday to the Easter Vigil, every day we will hear various stories from different Gospels about Judas Iscariot and his betrayal. It made me wonder why the Church, during the most important days for our faith, gives us such readings – readings about a well-known and commonly despised sinner.

What is it about Judas that the the Church in her wisdom wants to tell us? Perhaps it is because his story tells us something about God’s love as well. Hidden even in Judas’ story, there is an enormous hope for the Church about the redemption offered everyone. As I considered writing this article, and the potential misunderstanding surrounding the topic, I realized I needed to consider it because he is, after all, my brother, and at the same time an inscrutable conundrum. I must always ask Jesus, like the other disciples at the Last Supper after Christ claimed that one of them would betray Him: “Is it I, Lord?” (Matthew 26:22).

In fact, who is Judas? Who is this person who once left everything and followed Jesus? Would Christ have called him in the first place if He had seen in him an uncurable wrongdoer?

Perhaps we ought to see in Judas Iscariot a victim of solitude. He did not have an opportunity to repent as Peter did, who, after a threefold betrayal, had a chance to see Jesus in person, to hear the crow of a rooster reminding him of his sin, moving him to cry over his mistake. Judas allowed himself to become alone and isolated, and “it was night” (John 13:30). “Satan entered into him” (John 13:27), and he could not cope with this vile companion. Forgetting the Good, Evil became something unbearable for him. He did not recollect in this time of desolation Jesus’ last words to him – words which can dispel any darkness – “My friend” (Matthew 26:50).

Christ once prayed for His followers, that “none of them is lost but the son of perdition” (John 17:12); nevertheless, He beseeched His Father from the cross to forgive even those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34). By this last prayer, He announces the insufficiency of mere human justice. There is only Divine Mercy left.

Br. Karol Babis, O.P. | Meet the Student Brothers in Formation HERE