Judas Iscariot

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By Arnold Van Vugt

The Living Spirit

Thursday, April 17, 2014


DURING this Holy Week we are reflecting on the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. A central figure in this drama is Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus.

I was reading the Gospel of St. John chapter 12, where Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, anointed the feet of Jesus with an expensive ointment. Judas complained to Jesus and said that it would have been better for Martha to sell that expensive perfume and give the money to him to put it in their common fund so that he could have given it to the poor. Judas was the treasurer among the group of apostles of Jesus. John makes it very clear in his Gospel that Judas didn’t care at all about the poor and that he would have put the money in his own pocket. Judas was a stingy fellow and a thief. He was obsessed with money and used it for his own benefit.

I always have wondered how Judas could betray his dear friend Jesus. It must have been because of his obsession with money. After he had kissed Jesus on his cheek he ran off with the money and threw it away at the feet of the chief priests and Pharisees. Then he hanged himself. This last act of hanging himself was an act of desperation. To me, at that last moment he must have felt repentance for what he had done and only God knows where he is now, in hell or in heaven.

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I remember, years ago in Manila, some jeepney drivers used to have a small notice in their vehicle that said: ‘God knows Judas not pay.’ This meant to say that if you don’t pay your fare you are a Judas and God knows that. A Judas is somebody who is dishonest because of his obsession with money or he is a stingy fellow.

When I came to the Philippines fifty years ago my first assignment was as parish priest in Old Escalante, Negros Occ. I had a good friend there who came to me one day and asked if he could borrow some money from me. I gave him the money he asked for but he never came back to pay the money he borrowed. I not only lost a good friend but also my innocent trust in the Filipino. I never had experienced that in Holland.

Another friend of mine here in Cagayan de Oro who was a lay minister in our church came to me one day and asked if he could borrow some money for he had a relative who was seriously ill and he needed the money to help him in the hospital with medicines. I gave him the money but some time later I learned from his wife that that story was not true at all. He had made up that story and deceived me. After that, when I saw him distributing communion in the church I shouted at him: Judas. He later returned all the money and told me that he felt sorry.

I cannot help but thinking also about those honorable senators who have stolen so much money from the people through the Napoles pork barrel scam. When I see them on the TV screen I feel: you are a Judas.

Greediness and obsession with money can easily create a Judas in us. We must not forget that money is not ours. God is the owner of everything that we have and we must use it for the good of our fellowmen and not only for our own benefit. Greediness is a vice and dishonesty with money is a sin. Through his death and resurrection Jesus has redeemed us from these sins. Let us always repent and trust in God’s mercy.

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[Email: nolvanvugt@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on April 17, 2014.

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