April 13, 2017: Twelve Passion Gospels
According to the hymnography, Judas “did not wish to understand” (Antiphon 3) the events unfolding around Jesus. Our Lord’s teachings, the miracles He performed–most recently the raising of Lazarus from the dead–the acclamation of the crowd for Jesus. None of this touches Judas’ heart.
Or rather, Judas allows none of this touches his heart. He remains indifferent, hostile, to the promptings of grace. Judas “was incorrigible” (Kathisma) and this is why Jesus says of him “it would be better that he never been born” (see Matthew 26: 24, Mark 14:21). Can’t imagine harsher words from the Creator and yet this is what Jesus says of Judas.
For some of us, faith comes relatively easy. For others, it is a struggle. But whether faith comes to me easily or only with effort isn’t as important as whether or not I entrust myself to Jesus Christ and follow Him as “my Lord and my God” (John 20:28). To follow Christ is fundamentally a matter of my will.
Judas was unwilling to follow, he was unwilling to believe or to have his error corrected. In his hardness of heart, Judas bears testimony to one of the great truths of faith. God will not save me against my own will.
And how can He?
What is salvation except to return to God the love He has shown me? And love isn’t love unless it is freely given. Compulsion of any kind is foreign to love and so salvation.
But Judas will not return the love Jesus show him and so he iost. Even though he comes to deeply regret his betrayal, without love, his sorrow doesn’t lead to repentance but despair.
My brother and sisters in Christ!
Judas had everything but gave nothing. We need to learn from his example. Our salvation hinges on our free responses to God’s love. Don’t be Judas! Give yourself to God as fully as you are able in each moment of your life. Do this and you will be saved.