MAESTRO DEL CROCEFISSO DI TREVI (14th century)
TEMPERA ON WOOD - Vatican Museum Picture Gallery
Jesus, betrayed by Judas, is arrested
V/. We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you.
R/. Because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world
From the Gospel according to Luke 22:47-48
While he was still speaking, there came a crowd,
and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them.
He drew near to Jesus to kiss him;
but Jesus said to him, "Judas, would you betray the Son of man with a kiss?"
From the very first time he is named,
Judas is indicated as the one "who betrayed him" (Mt 10:4; Mk 3:19; Lk 6:13);
the tragic name of "traitor"
remains for ever linked to his memory.
How could he arrive at this point, one whom Jesus had chosen
to follow him so closely?
Did Judas let himself get carried away by an exasperated love for Jesus,
which became suspicion and resentment?
The kiss would lead us to believe so,
a gesture that shows love, but that became the gesture handing Jesus over to the crowd.
Or perhaps he was overcome by his disappointment with a Messiah
who rejected the political role of liberating Israel from foreign domination?
It would not take long for Judas to realize that his subtle blackmail
ended up in disaster.
For it was not the death of the Messiah that he desired,
but only that the Messiah be shaken up into taking on more resolute action.
And then: the futile regret for his gesture,
the refusal of the money of betrayal (Mt 27:4),
the giving in to despair.
when Jesus speaks to Judas as "the son of perdition",
he limits himself to recalling that thus the Scriptures will be fulfilled (Jn 17:12).
A mystery of iniquity that escapes us,
but that cannot overcome the mystery of mercy.
Jesus, friend of men and women,
you came to earth and took on our flesh,
in order to offer your solidarity to your brothers and sisters in humanity.
Jesus, meek and gentle of heart,
you bring comfort to those who suffer under the weight of their burdens (Mt 11:29);
and yet your offer of life has often been refused!
Even among those who have received you
there are those who deny you,
who have betrayed the commitment they made.
But you have never stopped loving them,
to the point that you would leave all the others to go in search of them,
in the hope of bringing them back to you,
carrying them on your shoulders (Lk 15:5) or letting them lean on your chest (Jn 13:25).
We entrust to your infinite mercy
your children preyed upon by discouragement and despair.
Grant that they might seek refuge with you
and "not despair ever of your mercy" (Rule of St. Benedict 3, 74).
you continue to love those who refuse your love
and tirelessly search out those who betray you and abandon you.
R/. To you be praise and glory for ever.