"The usual snare with which the devil catches the young is to fill them with shame when they are about to confess their sins. When he pushes them to commit sins, he removes all shame, as if there were nothing wrong with it, but when they are going to confession, he returns that shame magnified and tries to convince them that the priest will be shocked by their sins and will no longer think well of them. Thus the devil tries to drive souls to the brink of eternal damnation. Oh, how many lads does Satan steal from God – sometimes forever – by this trick.” – St John Bosco
(Gospel Text: John 12:1-11)
Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” The large crowd of the Jews found out that he was there and came, not only because of him, but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. And the chief priests plotted to kill Lazarus too, because many of the Jews were turning away and believing in Jesus because of him.
The apostle Judas is one of the principal figures in the Gospel accounts of Holy Week. In today’s gospel reading, it describes Judas as greedy and thieving, but what is worse, he cloaks his vice under the appearance of virtue. The Gospel describes how Mary anoints the feet of the Lord with costly perfume. Judas witnesses this act of kindness and adoration. His reaction is resentful and calculating. Judas points out the great value of the ointment that Mary uses. "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" Judas asks (John 12:5). More insidious than Judas' greed is his duplicitous attempt to cast his motives as a pure concern for the needs of the poor. In his Commentary on St. John, Thomas Aquinas observed that "the servants of Satan disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. (Judas) hid his malice under a cloak of piety."
Public interest in Judas has been stirred by recent reports of the "discovery" of the so-called "gospel" of Judas. This document is neither a discovery nor a gospel, but an ancient Gnostic composition that was both known and rejected by early Christians. As early as 180 AD, St. Irenaeus made reference to the "gospel of Judas," identifying it as a heretical text. Fr. Gerald O'Collins of the Gregorian University in Rome offers the best and final word: "It was junk then, and it is junk now."
Judas thought that he knew better than Jesus and His Church. That spirit is still alive in the world. Let us reject it and cling to the Gospel of salvation.