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Mar 29, 2024 1695 Father Roy Palatty CMI
Lenten reflections

Judas, Our Brother

Father Primo Mazzolari was one of the great public figures of mid-twentieth century Italy. His homily on Holy Thursday in 1958, a year before his death, which he titled “Our Brother Judas” is well-known. At the heart of the homily are the words of Jesus upon Judas’ arrival at the Garden of Gethsemane: “Friend, do what you have come for” (Matthew 26:50). “Friend” was what Jesus addressed him as at their last encounter. Even after his betrayal, Jesus expressed love, mercy, and even friendship towards this betrayer. This was an invitation to examine the inner life of Judas. We don’t know if even that tender word penetrated his heart. But we know one thing: Judas must have remembered that powerful and lovely word ‘friend’ at the moment when he hung himself on the tree. ‘O Judas, my friend…!’

Still, we are sure when Jesus prayed from the Cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” he certainly did not exclude Judas from those he prayed for. It is true that Jesus had predicted about Judas, “none of them was lost except the son of destruction” (John 17: 12). Another terrifying statement about Judas: “It would be better for that man if he had never been born” (Mark 14:21). But, as in many other instances, he had spoken from the perspective of time and not of eternity. The eternal destiny of a human being is an inviolable secret kept by God.

“We may betray Christ’s friendship, but Christ will never betray us, his friends; even when we don’t deserve it, even when we turn against him. Even when we deny him, in his eyes and in his heart, we are always friends of the Lord…. Poor Judas. Our poor brother. The greatest sin is not to sell Christ; it is to despair” (Primo Mazzolari).

We cannot pass a hasty judgment on him. The betrayal of Judas continues throughout history. Judas sold the Head, while his imitators continue to sell the Body, the members of the Body of Christ. Judas’ betrayal continues through the lives of each of us when we fail to confess our sins.

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Father Roy Palatty CMI

Father Roy Palatty CMI is a priest of the congregation of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate. He earned his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium and is a published author of books and articles. Since 2014, he has been serving as Spiritual Director of Shalom Media, a Catholic media ministry based in South Texas. Shalom Media is home to SHALOM WORLD Catholic television network and publishes Shalom Tidings bi-monthly magazine. Father Varghese is a gifted speaker and has been an in-demand preacher around the world, leading numerous retreats for priests, religious, and lay people.

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