‘The disciple is ready to put his or her whole life on the line even to accepting martyrdom, in bearing witness to Jesus Christ, yet the goal is not to make enemies but to see God’s word accepted and its capacity for liberation and renewal’. (Par. 24)
Today’s Gospel tells the terrible tale of Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus. Named as ‘one of the Twelve’, he denied his calling to become a mercenary and disown the Master. In the first reading Isaiah describes how daily the Lord ‘wakes me to hear, to listen like a disciple’ and ‘given me a disciple’s tongue’. (50:4).
Judas had stopped listening to Jesus’s words a long time before his betrayal and had substituted corruption for conversion. Instead of standing in solidarity with Jesus in his hour of loneliness he let Jesus down in a dramatic and deadly way. Mark tells how he identified Jesus in the most intimate terms: ‘He went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him’. (14:45). In place of putting his own life on the line.
Judas left Jesus in the hands of the Temple aristocracy and their armed thugs. For Francis the real disciple of the Lord rejects reward and revenge to remain with Jesus to the end.