20 October 2006

On Judas Iscariot and Matthias

During his Audience Address yesterday, His Holiness concluded his superb reflections on the Twelve Apostles with a few words on Judas Iscariot and Matthias, who replaced the Betrayer.

Peter’s successor noted that the very name of Judas arouses “an instinctive reaction of reprobation and condemnation.” He also point out that “the betrayal, as such, took place in two moments: first of all in its planning phase, when Judas comes to an agreement with Jesus’ enemies for thirty pieces of silver (cf. Matthew 26:14-16), and later in its execution with the kiss he gave the master in Gethsemane (cf. Matthew 26:46-50).”

The betrayal of Judas poses to questions to the faithful. “The first consists in asking ourselves how it was possible that Jesus chose this man and trusted man,” he said.

The second question concerns why Judas betrayed Jesus. This, the Pontiff said, “continues to be a mystery.”

Reminding the world that “the possibilities of perversion of the human heart are truly many,” the Holy Father cautioned that “the only way to prevent them consists in not cultivating a view of life that is only individualistic, autonomous, but in always placing oneself on the side of Jesus, assuming his point of view.”

While Judas, like Peter, repented, Judas’ “repentance degenerated into despair and in this way it became self-destruction.”

In all of this we should remember that “Jesus respects our freedom,” he said, and that “Jesus waits for us to have the disposition to repent and to be converted; he is rich in mercy and forgiveness.”

His Holiness spoke only briefly of Matthias, noting, “To the greatness of his fidelity was added later the divine call to take Judas’ place, as though compensating his betrayal.”

Through the lives of Judas and Matthias we can learn that “Although there is no lack of unworthy and traitorous Christians in the Church, it is up to us to counterbalance the evil they do with our limpid testimony of Jesus Christ our lord and savior.

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