Tradition refers to this day as Spy Wednesday, the day when Judas proceeded to betray Jesus by helping to orchestrate his ambush and arrest. Surely it is not I, Lord?
Some years ago I took part in a Good Friday service that was held at a graduate student community house. We were to read the Gospel through the voice of the different characters. I arrived late, and the host handed me a sheet with the reading, whispering apologetically that Judas was the only role left. I was to give voice to Judas Iscariot on that Good Friday. It was a humbling moment but also a moment of utter clarity. Judas’s brokenness is our brokenness too. Conversion happens when we recognize that we are not so far from him. But for the grace of God go I.
We want to recoil from Judas. None of us want to be known as the betrayer of the Lord, the one “damned for all time,” as Judas sings before the chief priests in Jesus Christ Superstar. Yet what has made that musical profound is the way it draws us into the perspective of Judas, his tragic struggle, his limited but passionate views, his practical worldliness. I cry when I watch it, because I get where he is coming from.
Before we enter into the Triduum, let’s take a hard and honest pause with Judas. There is grace, yes, grace, in his story if we allow it to reveal to us the parts of ourselves that need conversion.