SURELY, IT IS I LORD
It is the last day of Lent. Tomorrow we will enter a new liturgical season, the shortest of the year, the Triduum. We have had all of Lent to reflect upon the words prayed over our ashes, "Repent, and believe in the Gospel."
Today as we read Matthew's Gospel, we again see Judas's betrayal of our Lord. St. Matthew's account is heart-wrenching; the tension at the table is palpable even today as we place ourselves in the scene. The disciples are troubled, "Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, "Surely it is not I, Lord?" (Mt 26:22)
If we have used this Lent wisely, we might have enough interior humility to say, not "Surely it is not I, Lord?," but instead, "Surely it is I, Lord. I'm sorry! Have mercy on me!" You see, Judas never grasped that our sins are what leads to Christ's death. In his betrayal of our Lord, Judas did not think he was handing Him over to death. Today the readings help us to grasp that Jesus was nailed to the Cross not just to forgive Judas' breaches of faith but our own.
St. Pope John Paul II talked about the mystery of sinfulness. Why do we betray Jesus? While we do not wish to deliver our Lord to death, we know that our sins have done just that. Judas spent three years at the side of our Lord and yet never knew our Lord and His merciful love. At the end of his life, when he looked at what he had done, Judas saw no way past the shame. He chose to end his life rather than receiving forgiveness from the one who was prepared to die to take away his sins. Jesus died to take away our betrayals, our infidelities, our iniquities.
Oh, what fools we are if we become like Judas. The Lord allows us to chose Him or walk out into the darkness freely. If at the end of our days we have not come to know the Lord and His merciful love, the unexpiated guilt of our sins will kill us in this life and forever. On this last day of Lent, may you have the faith to repent and believe in the Gospel.