8th grade got a little off track today. One of the boys asked what Jesus "did" that saved us, making the distinction between teaching and salvation. It being a Catholic school, and this being Holy Week, and that being an important question, I tried to give him an answer, which spawned more questions, and so it went. One boy eventually asked, "Why did Judas betray Jesus?"
Good question, kid (They're full of those).
I've wondered this off and on over the years (the "on" usually being right about this time during Holy Week), and I've never been able to come up with an answer. I can think of possibilities. None stand out as particularly motivating, at least not to me, who spends much more time wishing the be close to Jesus, but of course I'm looking at it from the comfort of certainty and 2,000 years temporal distance.
And yet, I wonder about that certainty bit. So many Christians try to make Jesus in their own image -- style him into something that fits their existing view of the world and how things are and how things ought to be. I'd wager a majority of believing Christians are pretty certain they have the right conception of who and what Jesus is, but of course with all those different variations, someone is going to be wrong.
So, I wonder if Judas wasn't just another of us trying to make his messiah what he was supposed to be, doggonit, and fed up that he wasn't or frustrated with events that weren't going the way he'd have liked, and decided he was going to do something, anything. And like all of us when we sin, he thought he was doing a good thing. He thought he knew better than Jesus, Christ or no Christ.
I'm not making light of the betrayal, and neither do I attempt to outline mitigating factors of the willful catalyst in the crucifixion of the Son of God. It's simpler than that -- it's an observation of how alike so much sin is, and the suggestion that perhaps we are not so different from Judas ourselves.
Tomorrow evening, we gather 'round the table and break bread with our Lord, and like every other Mass, there will be John's and Peter's -- and Judas's.