Tuesday of Holy Week
(John 12:21-33; 36-38)
The gospel today invites us to compare and contrast Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial of Jesus. We may have heard preachers say that the two offenses amount to the same sin of infidelity. That opinion, however, is wrong-headed. It would be like equating setting on fire a home and not calling the fire department when we see the blazes. Others may condemn Judas’ treachery of handing Christ over to his enemies but dismiss Peter’s failure to stand up for Christ out of fear. This way of thinking is also misguided. Both deeds are despicable although Judas’ is more serious than Peter’s.
In explaining Judas’ treason, the passage says, “Satan entered him.” This does not mean that Judas betrays Jesus because he is possessed by the devil. No, there is full responsibility here. A bit later, when Judas leaves the supper, the passage ominously adds, “...it was night.” This reference is not to give the time of day but to indicate that Judas chooses darkness to the light of Christ. Earlier in the gospel Jesus tells Nicodemus that some people choose darkness to light (3:19). Here Judas deliberately makes the same choice. We should realize that we too are susceptible to it.
Sometimes we look for ways to excuse ourselves of sin. A young man may say that peer pressure forced him to drink too much. A young woman may attribute her abortion to fear of her parents’ chastisements if she came home pregnant. These kinds of circumstances certainly have a bearing on one’s action, but they seldom are so extreme that they excuse wrong-doing. We must develop virtue by always striving to do what is right amidst the varied circumstances of life. Conversely, we must not act like Peter who fails to support Jesus although he knows better.