Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J.
The principal actor in the great drama of Holy Week is our Lord, Jesus Christ. In the Sermon on the Mount He taught us how to live, in the Sermon on Mount Calvary He teaches us how to die. In the Sermon on the Mount He sowed the seeds of his Gospel. In the Sermon on Mount Calvary He watered the seeds with his blood. But today I would like to talk about the two principal supporting actors in this great drama, Simon Peter and Judas Iscariot.
How similar their lives. Both started out the same way. They were both personally called by Jesus. They were chosen to be among his most intimate friends. For three years they accompanied Jesus as he went around doing good: proclaiming the Good News, feeding the hungry, healing the sick, expelling demons and raising the dead to life. Both sinned against Jesus. Judas betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver. Peter, after telling Jesus that he would gladly lay down his life for him, denied three times that he even knew him.
But how different their end. Judas realizing his sin threw the 30 pieces of silver into the temple. Thinking that his sin was too big to be forgiven he hanged himself. Peter, realizing his sin, wept bitterly. And when Jesus asked him, “Simon, do you love me more than these?” He said, “Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you.” And the Lord said, “Feed my lambs, feed my sheep.” Judas ended up a suicide hanging from a tree. Peter ended up with the Keys to the Kingdom, the Vicar of Christ.
What made the difference? It was belief in the fidelity of the love of God, belief in the unconditional love of God, belief in the Divine Mercy. The tragedy of Judas was not his betrayal but his despair. He refused to believe in the fidelity of the love of God.
Our lives are similar to the lives of Peter and Judas. We too have been called by Jesus. We have been following Jesus, through the Gospel, for many years. We have been with him as he went around doing good, proclaiming the Good News, healing the sick, expelling demons, raising the dead. We too have sinned against Jesus. Like Judas we have betrayed Jesus not for 30 pieces of silver but for 30 pieces of pleasure, power, and prestige. Like Peter we have denied by our actions that we even know Jesus, not three times but many times three times.
Will our lives end like Peter’s or like Judas’? It depends on our faith, our faith in the fidelity of the love of God, in God’s unconditional love, in His Divine Mercy.
“I believe Lord, help Thou my unbelief.”
St. Peter was a liar. St. Dismas was a thief. Mary Magdalene a party girl and Tom without belief. But there they are in heaven smiling down upon us now, as each wears a tilted halo on a badly battered brow. So the sin of all you sinners doesn’t definitely damn, for your “wasness” doesn’t matter, if your “issness” really am.
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