During Holy Week those of us who for years lived the routines of convent or seminary life, find ourselves side-by-side with Jesus going through that Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The first readings at Mass are those passages from Second Isaiah known as the Songs of the Suffering Servant. Up close to Jesus we hear him muttering, “I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheek to those who plucked my beard.”
We have been raised to think of this day when Judas betrayed Jesus as Spy Wednesday. It is a day on which we must go out of our way to be faithful to Jesus. I remember this day in Korea almost sixty years ago when a Catholic girl I had recently baptized came to tell me that her father had sold her to a rich man who had other wives. “I can’t help it,” she said, “I have to go.” And I said, “Not on Spy Wednesday.”
The Bible has differing stories as to what happened to Judas afterwards. Matthew wrote that Judas tried to free Jesus by returning the money; but when that failed, he flung the money into the temple, then went off and hung himself. Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, recorded a legend according to which Judas used the thirty pieces of silver to buy a plot of land, after which he fell on it, and burst open. Another story about Judas has it that s holy man who was up for canonization was rejected for saying that Judas was certainly in hell. We cannot limit God’s forgiveness. Our jails are full of men and women who deeply regret their failings. To err is human, but to forgive is divine.