On the Unhappy Apostle Judas.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On the Unhappy Apostle Judas.
While in the temple at Jerusalem our Lord was engaged in scattering the celestial seed of His wondrous doctrine in the hearts of His hearers, the Pharisees, their hearts inflamed with anger, plotted how they might be revenged upon Him. Every word our Lord uttered, instead of being a medicine for their diseased souls, only envenomed their passions the more, and strengthened them in their determination to put Him to death at any cost. But how were they to get Him into their power? They feared the people. Yet alas! there was one individual ready and willing to deliver Jesus into their hands, the miserable traitor Judas. Contemplate him awhile, watch the conflict going on within his breast, a conflict between good and evil, between treachery and fidelity, a conflict in which he finally succumbed.
1st. Why did our Lord tolerate the traitor in His company? He knew full well all the sinister designs that filled Judas’ mind, He was quite aware that the traitor only awaited an opportune moment to deliver his Master to His enemies, and yet He tolerated him about His person. See how long-suffering our Lord is! The Good Shepherd saw daily, saw with the utmost sorrow the ravening wolf going about amongst the sheep of His flock, with the vile intention of attacking and rending to pieces not one of the sheep, but the Shepherd Himself, and with divine longanimity He bore that daily grief. Admire the marvellous charity of our God, and consider in this meditation, as St. Augustine exhorts us to do, how we ought always to be prepared, even when we enter the most sacred state, to bear patiently with the ungodly, and not to be irritated by them, but to persevere unflinchingly in the service of God, as did the other apostles. Almost everywhere a Judas is to be met with, and God permits that it should be so in order that the godly may have more abundant occasion to practise meekness, patience, charity and many other virtues which would never be called into play were there none who persecuted, calumniated or deceived them. Have you up to this time acquiesced in these wise designs of God? Or are you perhaps in your family, your Community, amongst those with whom you associate, some such member, whom our Lord only tolerates as an ordeal for the better ones.
2d. Consider what a terribly ignominious fate the wretched apostle prepares for his Master when he resolves to sell Him for thirty pieces of silver! What contempt for Him this displays! Such is the paltry price at which the disciple values his Master, the creature His Creator, the servant the Lord of Heaven and of earth. It was the law amongst the Jews that if any one killed a slave, he was to pay a fine of thirty pieces of silver to the owner of that slave. Thus He who came to deliver us from the slavery of sin was valued at the same rate as a common slave. Man was so precious in His sight that He did not deem His own blood too costly a price to pay for his ransom, and man counts his Redeemer of no more value than thirty pieces of silver! You feel indignant at this, my soul, but alas! you do not bethink yourself how often, for a very much lower price, for a momentary gratification of the senses, for even some lesser gain, an unjust advantage, a trifling act of revenge, and so forth, you have sold your God; for the sake of human praise you have delivered Him up to His enemies, and for mere human respect, for absolutely nothing, that is, you have betrayed your Master. Oh do not be indignant with the apostle, be indignant with yourself.
3d. Consider that what makes Judas conduct so revolting to us, is the double part he played, his actual and pretended relations to our Lord. The Pharisees did, it is true, hate the Redeemer more intensely, the executioners treated Him with greater barbarity, Herod undoubtedly despised Him more completely than Judas did, yet in all the history of our Lord’s Passion no name stands out in darker colors than that of Judas; not one of our Lord’s enemies appears in such an unfavorable light, not one inspires us with such repulsion as the unhappy traitor. This is easily explained. The snake, the adder nursed in the bosom, which turns against its benefactor, has always been regarded as more odious than the wolf which attacks a man openly. Judas was such a snake in our Lord’s bosom, nurtured by His charity. He sat at table with the Saviour, he enjoyed the privilege of intercourse with Him, he was called by the name of friend; outwardly he posed as a submissive disciple and trusted apostle, and all the while he was our Lord’s chief enemy, the worst of traitors. When you consider all this, and your heart burns with holy indignation against the faithless friend and hypocritical apostle, then remember that every Priest, every Religious, in a word every Christian who leads a sinful life, plays a similar part. In such persons you will trace all the distinctive features of Judas himself; you will not detect any difference between him and them. Now if you feel abhorrence for the Judas of history, feel equal abhorrence for those who are his counterparts in the present day, and take good heed lest you yourself should be one of them.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
Copyright © 2013. Holy Cross Publications. All rights reserved.