I am confident that none of us would ever want to be considered a traitor. And certainly, not betray the Lord Jesus! Who among us would want responsibility for turning Jesus over to the authorities, knowing what fate would await Him if we did so?
I think Judas gets a kind of bad rap in history. The last line in the gospel did not help his standing: better for that man if he had not been born. Scholars debate just what were Judas’ true intentions in handing Jesus over. Was Judas really that greedy and wanting some easy money? Or was he hoping to box Jesus into a corner where He would be forced to finally use His divine messianic power to overthrow the Romans and establish the Kingdom He spoke of? And let’s not forget that even good ol’ Saint Peter betrayed Jesus in his three-fold denial. The only difference between Peter and Judas is that Peter believed he could be forgiven; Judas could not, resulting in the taking of his own life.
But back to the most challenging question this gospel poses for us: Do we ever betray Jesus? If our Lenten journey has forced us to truly be honest with ourselves, we must confess that all of us have betrayed Him. We betray Him not so much in what we have done, but, as is said in the Act of Penance, in what we have failed to do — our sins of omission.
We betray Jesus whenever we have not fully followed His example and teachings. When we have not been true in our thoughts, words and actions to His example of non-violence, eerily prophesied by the Prophet Isaiah in today’s first reading. When we have not done justice to the least of Jesus’ sisters and brothers who are hungry, cold, homeless, imprisoned, and oppressed. When we have not forgiven from our hearts those who have hurt us. When we have not spoken up to our elected officials on behalf of those suffering from economic injustices. The list could go on and on…
My intent here is not to make any of us feel guiltier, but to realize that we all still have a long way to go in our continual conversion to become ever more faithful to Jesus. And certainly, the staff, volunteers, and services of our Catholic Charities agencies strive every day to be faithful to Jesus’ gospel message. I would dare to say that in many ways, the very existence and works of Catholic Charities helps the wider Church to remain faithful to the Lord Jesus, to His teachings, and to the Kingdom Jesus so wants for our troubled world. Let us all strive to be Christ’s faithful disciples and trust, as did Saint Peter, in His merciful loving forgiveness when we fail to do so!
Deacon Lucio Caruso has served in Catholic Charities agencies for 20 years and is currently Pastoral Administrator for a multi-cultured parish in Louisville, KY.