Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Judas, Part II

In yesterday's combox post, an anonymous poster is baffled as to why Judas remained with Jesus if his heart wasn't into it. It is certainly a perplexing question, and one that does not present any easy answer. Any thoughts out there?

Today, the story picks up at the beginning of the Last Supper, and what always strikes me is that Jesus still hasn't given up on Judas, but rather continues to call him to something greater. The small details in the story, when placed into the context of life at the time of Our Lord illustrates this dramatically, if we pay attention.

First, it is important to remember that DaVinci's Last Supper is anachronistic. At the time of Jesus, they did not 'sit' at table, rather they reclined at low level tables and relaxed on cushions. (To me, one of the funniest scenes in the Passion of the Christ [if there could be anything humorous about that particular movie!] is when Jesus is making the table as we would today and Mary gives him a rough time about it.) Also, the tables were not usually square, but were shaped like the letter 'U' so that the servants could serve the meal without reaching over those eating. (I would diagram it, but my two year old neice has better art skills than I do!)

So, as Jesus says 'The one to whom I give the morsel to is the one who will betray me,' there is a clear indication that Judas is next to him, or at the least close at hand. Peter, on the other hand, isn't, as he has to indicate to John to ask Jesus for more info.

So, if they are laying on their sides at an angle to a low laying table, who's next to whom? Another detail clearly shows that John is 'in front of' Jesus, as he leans his head back on the breast of Our Lord.

Putting it all together, then, Judas is behind Jesus.

Ok, it should come as no surprise that I'm not Him, but I don't think I would put the guy trying to kill me with a clear shot at my neck with a knife! (The knife is an embellishment.)

The way this passage comes about, it really seems that Jesus is fully in control (especially in the Gospel according to John!), and is inviting Judas to repentance. He shows Judas that Jesus knows what Judas is doing and about to do. Yet, ultimately he accepts His fate and recognizes that 'His Hour has finally come.'

Finally, one last detail with regard to Judas for today. "He took the morsel and left at once. It was night." Flip back to the beginning of the Gospel, the prologue: "A light shines in the darkness and the darkness shall not overcome it." In the language of the Scriptures, and even stronger in John's parlance, light is the realm of God and darkness is the realm of the evil one. Judas has left the presence of the 'Light of the World' and has entered the realm of darkness. By his failure to repentant and be open to Christ's presence and call to conversion, Satan was able to enter his heart and bring about the apparent downfall of the Son of Man.

Tomorrow, we'll examine Judas' possible motivations a little more indepth.


barb said...

I read somewhere that many of the Jews thought that the Messiah would be a political leader, that he would have political power. Judas wanted to be part of that so he stayed with Jesus hoping that would happen.
Is that a possibility?

Anonymous said...

Judas' motivation is mentioned at the beginning of the Gospel of John, chapter 12. This is the point at which he objects to the woman wasting expensive perfume by washing Jesus' feet with it. Since Judas was the keeper of the money he'd been siphoning off funds (verse 6). So there does seem to be a payoff for sticking around.

Kasia said...

Both of those explanations seem plausible to me.

On the other hand, there are plenty of days when I stick with something that my heart isn't in. Some days my heart isn't in my job; some days my heart isn't in my faith. Heck, I spent most of Lent keeping my penance even though I never really got into the Lenten spirit this year.

I think the difference is that I know that (for example) my faith is true, so on days when my heart isn't really in it, I pray for renewed enthusiasm. I am confident that my job and my relationship are where I am supposed to be, so on days when I don't feel grateful or joyous about it, I pray for constancy. I know my Lenten penance is right irrespective of whether I feel like doing penance, so I pray for strength to keep doing it. Reminds me of the saying "Love is a choice."

I guess by that reasoning, the main difference between me and Judas is that he stopped making the right choice, and in fact turned around and made a disastrously wrong one. Which is a powerful lesson for me in trying to keep making the right one.

Anonymous said...

Why did Judas stay with Jesus? IMHO, One, because he stole from the money bag--an easy way to make money. Two, because he was loved, when one feels loved, welcomed and fed, not someting that's easy to walk away from. Three, Jesus was loved by many--many believed in Him. Judas liked the "status" of hanging out with Jesus--Jesus gave Judas credibility.

Sharon said...

Why do some priests remain in the Church and make it very plain to their congregations that their heart is not in it?

Anonymous said...

What an interesting blog..