Lent is all about conversion, repenting from sinfulness and forgiving those you are harboring resentment toward. As a Catholic you know this, but so many times it’s difficult to get it from your head where you know it to your heart where it hurts. You have your own Judas who has betrayed you who is lurking in the shadows of your heart. For some this may be an ex-spouse, as it was for me.
In the Gospel we read about Judas’ betrayal of Jesus and it’s easy to picture Judas as a complete good-for-nothing. Sneaky, deceitful… yes, you might even say wicked.
But I bet that wasn’t the case. Jesus wasn’t wrong when he called Judas as one of the 12. No, when Jesus called Judas to be an apostle He called him for all that he had to offer. Judas believed in Jesus, he loved Jesus, he had great gifts to share and he wanted to spread the Gospel with Him. Is it possible that your Judas started out this way? With mutual love, friendship and good qualities?
Somewhere along the way – many believe it was during the Bread of Life discourse in John 6 – Judas lost his faith and became “the traitor.” And somewhere along the way, your ex-spouse, ex-boyfriend, friend or loved one – your Judas – lost it too.
At dinner in those days, it was customary was to honor a particular guest by dipping a morsel into the wine and handing it to that person so everyone at the table could see and Jesus did this for Judas. It was as if to say, “I believe in you… I believe you can do the right thing,” giving him yet one more chance to change his mind.
But it didn’t happen. Judas stuck to his decision to betray Him.
Despite this grave betrayal and knowing what else was about to come with Peter’s thrice denial of Him, Jesus still got down on His knees after and washed the apostles’ feet with great love. He told them, “I have set the example, and you should do for each other exactly what I have done for you (John 13:15).”
This is the example He wants you to follow now.
We have all been through great hurts in our lives, especially those who have experienced divorce. We are called to love our enemies as well as our neighbors but how can we love someone who has betrayed us so badly? So deliberately? So insensitively?
You can love by following Jesus’ example and washing the feet of your Judas.
NEVER! you may say. But wait… let your emotions die down a little and re-think your answer.
There are many ways to wash someone’s feet because what that really equates to is being humble and treating your Judas with charity. Praying for your Judas is the best way to start. It can be really hard to pray for someone who has hurt you and that’s understandable. But consider St. Therese of Lisieux, who would always pray for those who hurt her in this way: “Lord, please bless her and reward her for giving me the opportunity to suffer.”
Hard to get to that place? OK. But it’s not impossible.
Depending on your situation, you may even have the opportunity to not only pray and work on forgiveness, but offer an olive branch of some sort. Only you know what’s possible with your ex-spouse or other Judas. It’s worth considering.
God has stockpiles of graces He is waiting to give you and He does so, generously, and as He pleases, but He still wants us to come to Him when things are difficult and ask Him for the particular graces we need so we don’t have to bear the burden alone. His grace will fortify us in every encounter, in every situation.
Don’t let the graces of this Easter Triduum (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday) pass by without asking God to show you how you can wash the feet of your Judas.