Life Of Christ:
Christ Announces To St. Peter His Supreme Pastoral Charge
Private Life Of Jesus During His Ministry
Sorrow Caused To Jesus And Mary By The Persecution Of The Jews
Jesus Triumphantly Enters Jerusalem
Jews Lay Plans To Put Jesus To Death
The Last Supper
Farewell Discourse And Prayer Of Jesus
Jesus In The Garden Of Gethsemani
Treason Of Judas, And The Apprehension Of Jesus
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Treason Of Judas, And The Apprehension Of Jesus
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
JUDAS had not been idle during the interval which elapsed since the time he left the company of the apostles. " And Judas also, who betrayed Him, knew the place: because Jesus had often resorted thither, together with His disciples. Judas, therefore, having received a band of soldiers and servants from the chief priests and the Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth and said to them : Whom seek ye? They answered Him: Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith to them: I am He. And Judas also, who betrayed Him, stood with them." (John xviii. 2-5.) "And he that betrayed Him, gave them a sign, saying: Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is He; hold Him fast. And forthwith coming to Jesus, he said: Hail, Rabbi. And he kissed Him. And Jesus said to him: Friend, whereto art thou come?" (Matt. xxvi. 48-50.) "Judas, dost thou betray the Son of man with a kiss?" (Luke xxii. 48.)
The treason of Judas is one of those startling manifestations of human frailty which occur at times even among those who seem to be the pillars of God's Church. They. rouse us from our dream of security, reminding us of the solemn warning: "Wherefore he that thinketh himself to stand, let him take care lest he fall." (I Cor. X. 12.) Surely, if we might look for stability anywhere, it would be among those whom Jesus Himself elected to be His representatives among men. He saw the hearts and the dispositions of those whom He gathered round Him for this purpose; and, therefore, Judas must have been a man who, if he had persevered in the way in which he was called to walk, would at last have laid down his life for his Master, like the rest of the apostles, and sealed a glorious career with a still more glorious death. Yet, though he was an apostle, and privileged as few men have been either before or since, he fell away most miserably from the service of Jesus Christ, and was lost. Since that time, very many have imitated his treason, and sold their Lord and Master for as paltry a sum as the blood-money which he received from the iniquitous high-priests. Heretics and unbelievers use them as examples wherewith to illustrate their arguments against our holy religion, and many of the simple faithful find them a rock of scandal and a stone of offence. But, instead of doing us any harm, the fall of such men may be turned into a signal benefit, if we learn to regard their prevarication as a warning of what may befall ourselves. We are all weak and liable to stray from the path of duty; therefore, when we see those who are more perfect than ourselves turning traitors to their God, let us remember to stand in fear, not to be censorious, but humbly to ask God to guide our steps in His paths, and not to suffer our feet to wander from the narrow way into the broad road which leads to perdition.
Alas, the kiss of Judas is being constantly repeated. When some teacher of error, himself unworthy of divine grace, through his lust of flesh or pride of intellect, rises up against the discipline or teachings of His Church, and under the flimsy pretext of saving bishops and popes from error, and hypocritically prating about his love for the Church, betrays the spotless spouse of Christ to her enemies, is not such a profession of love the kiss of Judas? Alas, how often has the kiss of Judas been offered to the Saviour from the beginning of heresy and schism even to the latest years? And when a would-be enlightened individual, pretending to preach a so-called liberal policy for the Church, or a more advanced and modern Christianity, brings forward opinions subversive of faith and morals; when a Christian, though living in mortal sin, mingles among the faithful brethren, and, although unprepared and unrepentant, even- approaches the altar to receive his Lord, is not such action similar to the treacherous kiss of Judas in the Garden of Olives?
" As soon, therefore, as He had said to them: I am He, they went backward, and fell to the ground." (John xviii. 6.) St. Augustine here remarks : " Behold the power of a single word from the lips of Jesus! Although He raises no sword, the well-armed, boastful, and presumptuous gang fall helpless at His feet. If He who was about to be dragged to judgment had such power then, what shall He not be able to accomplish when He shall come in a cloud of power and majesty to be Himself the judge? If at the point of death He is so mighty, what will He be when in His glory? "
"Again, therefore, He asked them: Whom seek ye? And they said : Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered : I have told you that I am He: if therefore you seek Me, let these go their way. That the word might be fulfilled which He said: Of them whom Thou hast given Me, I have not lost any one." (John xviii. 7-9.) "Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it, and struck the servant of the high-priest, and cut off his right ear. And the name of the servant was Maichus." (John xviii. 10.) "But Jesus answering, said: Suffer ye thus far. And when He had touched his ear, He healed him." (Luke xxii. 51.) " Jesus therefore said to Peter : Put up thy sword into the scabbard. The chalice which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?" (John xviii. 11,12.) "And Jesus said to the chief priests, and magistrates of the temple, and the ancients that were come unto Him: Are you come out, as it were against a thief, with swords and clubs? When I was daily with you in the temple, you did not stretch forth your hands against Me; but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. (Luke xxii. 52, 53.) "Now all this was done that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then the disci. pies all leaving Him, fled." (Matt. xxvi. 56.)
It would seem from the gospel narrative that though Judas gave the preconcerted signal which pointed out to the soldiers the person of Our Lord, they did not at once rush on and seize Him. Either their eyes were blinded, so that they could not see, or the traitor had been so precipitate in performing his villainous part that they had not noticed his salutation. As they stood irresolute, Jesus advanced toward them. All signs of weakness and of fear had vanished from Him. With unfaltering step He came toward them, and asked, in a voice in which there was not the slightest tremor of apprehension : " Whom seek ye?" They answered : " Jesus of Nazareth." Then He uttered these few simple words: "I am He," with such majestic dignity of mien and quiet intrepidity of tone that His would-be captors reeled backward and fell to the ground. Amazement and fear held them spellbound; they dared not lay a finger upon Him. Again, therefore, Jesus said to them: " Whom seek ye?" and again received the same answer. "I have told you," replied Jesus, " that I am He. If therefore you seek Me, let these go." By these words He gave them permission to seize upon Him; for the soldiers at once advanced, and with them the servants of the high-priest. St. Peter now drew forth his sword, and aiming a blow at the most forward, cut off his right ear. Jesus somewhat sternly bade him put back his weapon into its scabbard, as the use which he had made of it seemed to imply a want of faith in the power of God, who, on a word from His beloved Son, would have sent to His assistance legions of angelic spirits. Then, with compassionate tenderness, He healed the wound inflicted by His over-zealous apostle, and gave Himself into the hands of His enemies.
Reflect, now, in what way you may make the contemplation of this incident in Our Lord's passion bear upon your daily life. There are seasons of trial and difficulty, when all things seem to be turning against you, and when, in addition to the trouble which hampers you on every side, there is added the enticement of the devil to abandon the service of God and to give yourself up to the pleasures of the world. When you are on the point of sinning, when your will is hesitating, trembling, as it were, in the balance, Jesus Himself comes before you, and says: "Wherefore art thou come? Is it to betray Me? Is it to hand Me over into the power of My enemies?" He speaks to you with a gentle voice, half-sorrowful, half-reproachful: "My child, it is I. Do not, I beseech thee, do this thing! It is I whom thou art about to outrage. I have loved thee tenderly, with more than a mother's love. I have watched over thee, and seen thy struggles and thy trials, and borne thee up in the wearying heat of the conflict. I have given thee all that I have: more I could not give thee, for I gave thee Myself. I have shed the last drop of blood to redeem thee. What, therefore, art thou about to do?" Reflect upon it, and let the horror which the magnitude of so great a crime will flash into your soul bring you to your knees in humble supplication for pardon, for mercy, for strength.
But there is another aspect under which we may look at the words of Jesus. There are some who, like the soldiers and the Jews that apprehended Jesus, are not impressed by the words which Christ addresses to them. They are deaf to the gentle pleading of His loving Heart; all that He has done for them, all that lie promises to do for them, is forgotten. The allurements of sin flaunt so glaringly before their view that they see not the tearful eyes and the blood-stained face of their Redeemer. His outstretched hands are unheeded by them. They fling Him aside; they thrust Him into the clutches of His enemies, and grasp their heart's desire. There is no hand raised to smite them for their impiety, because it is their hour, and the hour of darkness. But that hour will pass away, and then it will be God's day a day of calamity and of misery, a day of vengeance and retribution. For the sinner is not suffered to go on in his sin forever. The measure of his iniquities is filled up, and then the hour of doom strikes the knell of condemnation for him. He shall be snatched from the midst of his sins and hurried into the presence of his Judge. Then he shall hear these words of Jesus thundered into his ear: " It is I, Jesus of Nazareth. It is I whose words you have despised, whose counsels you have set at naught, at whose threats you have laughed. It is I whose laws you have transgressed, whose sufferings you have made unavailing, whom you have despised and ill-treated. And now the day of vengeance has arrived. Thou mayest call the mountains to fall upon thee and to cover thee, but they cannot hide thee from My wrath. Begone, accursed one, into everlasting fire !"
Dearest Jesus! I beg of Thee, through the merits of Thy cruel fetters, that Thou wouldst deliver me from the manacles of sin, of the world, and of the devil. Bind me to Thyself so fast with the fetters of love that I may ever remain Thy willing captive. Bind my heart to Thy heart, my mind to Thy mind, my soul to Thy soul, so that, by virtue of these triple bonds of love we may be so united that the power of the world, the flesh, and the devil may never be able to separate us.