Tenebrae Responsories: Iudas, Mercator Pessimus

Tenebrae Responsories: Iudas, Mercator Pessimus April 7, 2019

 

Judas mercator pessimus osculo petiit Dominum ille ut agnus innocens non negavit Iudae osculum. Denariorum numero Christum Iudaeis tradidit. Melius illi erat si natus non fuisset.

Judas, the vile merchant, required a kiss from the Lord who, like an innocent lamb, did not deny the kiss to Judas. For a large amount of dinarii, he betrayed Christ to the Jews. It would have been better for him, had he not been born.

Judas required a kiss from the Lord who, like an innocent lamb, did not deny.

Judas required and the Lord did not deny.

The Lord did no denying at all that night: not the kiss, not the guards, not the charges brought against Him. He did not lift His voice in His own defense, but only in defense of the priest’s slave and of His own disciples– “Whom do you seek? I am He. Whom do you seek? I have told you that I am He, now let these others go.”  He didn’t do very much at all, of His own volition. He said very little, offered no resistance, went meekly where He was led, received what blows were dealt to Him, and bore the cross they put on His shoulders the next day.

Judas, that vile merchant, was busy. He did all kinds of things. He went to the priests to plot the arrest; then he led them all to the garden. He demanded a kiss, which was freely given. He went back to the priests and repented, badly. He went off and hanged Himself. He busied himself with the most expedient way to make money, found it did not make him happy, returned it, and despaired.

It would have been better for Judas, had he not been born.

Not because of some vengeful God eternally roasting Judas over the fires of hell. Remember, we’re not required to believe that anyone is in hell. But because Judas was a human being born to live in the freedom of the sons of God, and instead he was enslaved– enslaved to finding something that would make him happy, and never finding it, because happiness is not something that can be gotten in that way. Happiness cannot be grasped. Happiness cannot be secured by chasing the things of this world: power, money, the favor of important people like the High Priest. Eventually, those things will demand that you forfeit your soul and betray your God. And they will give you nothing in return.

Perhaps Judas was feeling that nothing at the very moment he demanded a kiss, and the kiss was freely given.

The Lord was free. He gave everything freely, and did not seek his own happiness.

And there was Judas, clutching a bag of silver, wondering where happiness could be found.

And then he heard the Lord saying, “I am He. Whom do you seek? I have told you that I am He, now let these others go.”

But Judas the vile merchant could not let go.

It would be better for him, if he had never been born.

(image via Pixabay) 

 

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