Was Judas’ remorse over his betrayal of an innocent man evidence of the repentance of his sin? Even though Jesus said Judas did not believe early in his ministry, could he have come to belief at the end of his life? If the priests had shown mercy and a proper spirit of helpfulness when he approached them, would he have condemned himself as he did? How could a close intimate who daily witnessed the love, forgiveness and power of Christ be tempted to turn him over to his enemies in the first place?
In a very true sense, all sin is a mystery. And the difficulty is greater with the greatness of the guilt, with the smallness of the motive for doing wrong, and with the measure of the knowledge and graces vouchsafed to the offender. In every way the treachery of Judas would seem to be the most mysterious and unintelligible of sins.
Some have speculated that Judas never believed or loved Jesus. The Apocryphal Arabic Gospel of the Infancy says that Judas was possessed by Satan even as a baby to paint him evil his entire time spent with Christ; as someone groomed to betray, a sleeper agent.
Others, namely a sect of Gnostics considered to be heretics by the early church fathers, taught that Judas was the only disciple enlightened to the truth. His betrayal was a self-sacrifice of sorts that led Christ to the cross in order for mankind to be redeemed. Judas was revered and worshiped because of this reasoning.
A popular, modern theory is similar to that outlined in the fictional diaries presented here. Judas, like most of the other disciples, dreamed of a messianic, earthly kingdom. He formulated a plan to provoke the uprising of the people at the arrest of Jesus. The people would then free Jesus and set him on the throne. Hence, Judas’ remorse when he finds out the people did not revolt.
Judas is guilty of ultimate treachery. That is undeniable. Judas was also an intimate hand-chosen by Jesus, which implies admirable attributes and a gift of grace. Take an exaggerated view of any theory and you can miss a valuable lesson about the effects of unfaithful, sinful thinking. Judas’ story serves as a warning, if you will, for those considered “close to the Master.” Because even in familiarity with the “rabbi”, a gradual slip into selfish desire can result in tragedy.
Read the fictional diary of Judas penned during the last week of his life, Passion Week.
The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VIII. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York