“While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I shall kiss is the man; seize him.’ And he came up to Jesus at once and said, ‘Hail, Master!’ And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, why are you here?'” Matthew 26:47-50
In Scripture, Jesus asks a lot of questions. I read (via Google) that He asks about 87 questions, and most of the time He asks a question in response to a question.
But this question in the Gospel of Matthew has real stuck with me during this celebration of the Triduum. Friend, why are you here?
Jesus knows why Judas is there, He knows that Judas is the betrayer, He knows that Judas is betraying Him right at this second, but He still asks the question. I used to read it as a way of Christ giving Judas the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps Judas isn’t here to betray Him…in the middle of the night…with all these men…who are armed.
But more and more the idea of mercy has been on my heart (many thanks to Pope Francis, Consoling the Heart of Jesus, and the upcoming double canonization on Divine Mercy Sunday).
I believe that Jesus is asking Judas, I know what you are doing but why are you here? Judas, these men know who I am, I would willingly give myself up for them. Judas, do you need to be here? Couldn’t you have told them where I would be and then gone away?
I believe Jesus is asking this because there is still time for mercy.
Even after the exchange of money, even after Judas leads the men to Christ, even after Judas addresses Him as “Master”, and even after he kisses him, there is still time for mercy.
The deed is done and Christ asks him, are you here to receive My mercy? There is still time.
Even after the guards grab hold of Me, even after they take Me away, even after the rest of My disciples leave Me, after the beating and the scourging, after the crucifixion, even after everything seems to be lost, there is still time for My Mercy.
“Let us … remember Peter: three times he denied Jesus, precisely when he should have been closest to him; and when he hits bottom he meets the gaze of Jesus who patiently, wordlessly, says to him: “Peter, don’t be afraid of your weakness, trust in Me.” Peter understands, he feels the loving gaze of Jesus and he weeps. How beautiful is this gaze of Jesus — how much tenderness is there! Brothers and sisters, let us never lose trust in the patience and mercy of God!”— Pope Francis’ Homily on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 7, 2013
Have a holy Good Friday!