A deep sadness fills me when I reflect on Judas’ betrayal of his friend Jesus of Nazareth. I don’t know the moment at which this chosen disciple gave up on hope, when the light in his creative imagination flickered and died. But it had by the time the band of brothers gathered for what turned out to be their final supper together. Judas had read the political and social signs (all negative). He peered into his future for possible outcomes if he stayed with Jesus. He saw trouble, even the likelihood of violent death. Somewhere along the path of his young life, Judas had forgotten the words of Yahweh spoken through Isaiah the prophet. “[He] pronounced my name before I was born . . . . I am important in the sight of Yahweh.” 1
Judas no longer believed he was “chosen,” both as a Jew and as one of those few handpicked by Jesus and destined to change the world for the better. He could imagine no good could coming from his association with Jesus and the other men and women who had bought into his message. Having given up on the greater power of unconditional love, he snuffed his inner light, then his life.
Still, I canonize Judas. I have an insight into how this unfortunate story really ended. Beyond the door of death, he rose to new life. Welcomed by his all-forgiving Lord (“. . . they know not what they do”), the humbled Judas took his gifted, if undeserved, place in heaven. I see him spending eternity interceding for those still alive who have lost hope, who cannot imagine they are loved without condition. St. Judas Iscariot is patron saint of bridge jumpers, ODers, suicides by police, and others whose spiritual vision ends at the tips of their noses. In their last hour, the restored apostle is at their side urging them, “Don’t despair of God’s love. You are important. Your light is still meant to shine.” Some do listen and choose life. Others don’t and find it, as St. Judas Iscariot did, only in the next.
Harvesting the Depth and Riches of My Life
What are my thoughts about Judas Iscariot being the apostle in heaven that he never was on earth?
How important am I to God?
How will I let myself be light to those around me today?
1. Isaiah 49:1-6