Today is Holy Thursday, the Feast of the Lord's Supper, the Solemnity of the Betrayal of Judas. If we contemplate sin seriously, it can quickly become overwhelming. Even venial sins - little white lies, sharp words, petty refusals of generosity or gratitude - deserve a terrible punishment because of the majesty of the Creator whose Law they offend. The most terrible crimes, though, can only leave us unfazed if we are truly callous and hardened. The temptation we experience all year long, I propose, is not to this sin or to that, but toward this callous failure to understand the horror of sin. It is rooted perhaps in many foundational failures: carelessly failing to note the glory of God's creation and plan; failure to really take in the dignity of our wife, neighbor, child, coworker; failure to take our own sins as seriously as we take the sins of others. It is upon this last point that I want to reflect more particularly for just a moment.
It is very common for us to coin new terms like stupak, which nowadays means to betray one's convictions in a self-congratulatory way and to abandon those counting on you to help them in a very important cause. It's easy to think of the Nazi leaders as the ultimate evil, and their party members as the ultimate colluders of evil, the ultimate opportunists. It's easy to think of this or that disgraced priest as the ultimate scandal, the most wretched of men. It's easy for us to think of the school board's ridiculous and immoral curriculum as the ultimate lesson in degradation.
What's hard is to remember that my sins are made of the same sort of thing. It's hard to remember that I sit silently while others mock the church or make pro-lifers out to be wackos. It's hard to remember that I buy my food and clothing without a care or a thought toward what "causes" the manufacturers support: gay marriage, abortion, no matter - as long as I get the best ice cream or the best coffee. It is hard to remember that I have neglected my family obligations because other opportunities were more alluring. It's hard for me to remember that many of the movies and songs I put into my head that "don't have that effect on me" all the while corrode my heart and thinking.
This, then, is the hard work of the Christian: to remember that I am Judas.
It isn't as dramatic as it sounds. I am going to set aside the cases of people whom I believe to be possessed outright, like Hitler. Even in the matter of Judas Iscariot, the gospels tell us that the devil entered into him. The gospels also show something more to the present point: Judas did not suddenly, dramatically betray our Lord. His betrayal was the final acheivement in a string of interior desertions. Fulton Sheen does a good job in one of his books illustrating how Judas is the apostle who never quite got it. He got money. That he understood. He got the Romans. Them he understood. But Jesus: Judas never quite understood Him. Many of us think that we "get" Jesus. I, like Judas, do not understand Him nearly as well as I think.
The simple fact is that tonight is Holy Thursday. Tonight, in some way big or small, I will almost certainly betray our blessed Lord with sin - perhaps even between confiteor and communion. That's something like betraying with a kiss, isn't it?
I am Judas.