A powerful presentation in the movie The Robe (1953), by the late great Michael Ansara, of a repentant Judas sunk in the sin of despair. Pope Francis touched upon the theme of a repentant Judas with bizarre results. Oakes Spaulding at Mahound’s Paradise surveys the damage:
Then Francis presented a novel theory on Judas and the high priests.
Pope Francis said: “It hurts when I read that small passage from the Gospel of Matthew, when Judas, who has repented, goes to the priests and says: ‘I have sinned’ and wants to give … and gives them the coins. ‘Who cares! – they say to him: it’s none of our business!’ They closed their hearts before this poor, repentant man, who did not know what to do. And he went and hanged himself.
And what did they do when Judas hanged himself? They spoke amongst themselves and said: ‘Is he a poor man? No! These coins are the price of blood, they must not enter the temple… and they referred to this rule and to that… The doctors of the letter. “
The life of a person did not matter to them, the Pope observed, they did not care about Judas’ repentance.
The Gospel, he continued, says that Judas came back repentant. But all that mattered to them “were the laws, so many words and things they had built”.
- The Jewish high priests (being Jewish high priests) had no power to forgive sins in that sense.
- Neither Judas nor the high priests believed they had such a power.
- In any case, while looking down at Judas for being sort of a rat, the priests obviously wouldn’t think that acting against Jesus was per se a sin.
- Judas’ repentance was belied by the fact of his subsequent suicide, as well as (according to most Biblical commentators) the peculiar Greek word used for “repentance” in this passage but not in other passages.
- The common understanding is that his repentance was more akin to “stupid move” than “I’m truly sorry that I betrayed my Master and friend.” (Again, see suicide and Greek word used.)
- This is reinforced by the fact that Judas did not try to save Jesus or go back to the other apostles and apologize, etc. Rather, he pulled a “poor me.”
“History tells us of many people who were judged and killed, although they were innocent: judged according to the Word of God, against the Word of God. Let’s think of witch hunts or of St. Joan of Arc, and of many others who were burnt to death, condemned because according to the judges they were not in line with the Word of God” he said.
Who will be the first bishop to stand up to this?