Did you ever think it would come to this? When I asked you to follow me and you left family and friends to walk in my steps, did you ever wonder what the future would hold? I know you did. You were full of future and full of hopes. They’ll say you were greedy and that’s why you put yourself in charge of the funds but we both know that’s not true. If it was greed that motivated you there were bigger funds to draw from that the few coppers we often had. Do you remember the time we got a coin from a fish’s mouth? I’m sure that amused you – you who had charge of the funds – that when a coin was needed we had to go fishing! I know it wasn’t the money that attracted you or kept you walking with me.
I never had any worries about you and money but I did worry about you. I worried that you wanted more, no not more money, but more from me! I talked of peace and you dreamt of change. I talked of the past and future you longed for now. I talked of patience, turning the other cheek, giving the cloak to the man who stole your shirt and you – you wanted action and change. You were tired of being the underdog. You wanted so much wanted it so quickly. You think I didn’t notice your inner thoughts and dreams – your belief that I would overthrow authority, call the bluff of those who pretended they knew all. I knew that disappointment had set in – more than that, frustration. You wanted things to happen at a swifter pace, a more urgent pace but the word you missed and kept missing, was “pace”. I needed you to “pace yourself Judas”, to slow down, reflect, acknowledge the goodness that was in those around us – even those we did not understand.
Did you think it would come to this Judas? That you’d leave the table, having dipped your fingers in the same dish as I and that the freshly washed hands would open themselves to thirty pieces of silver? Silver you didn’t really care for, despite what the people thought. Judas, I know you didn’t sell me for those silver pieces. I heard them bang off the floor when you threw them back. You just lost sight of me for a while. You didn’t pace yourself. Judas, I understand now as I understood then. Your heart was in the right place … if only you had paced yourself …
the reply …
How I wished we’d talked that night. Passover night! I sat so close to you but felt so far away. What were you saying to us when you took the bread and wine? “My Body, given up for you – my blood, poured out for you” – I thought you were talking about it all being over. I didn’t want to have to do anything “in memory” of you. It seemed as if you’d thrown in the towel. Even the towel. When I saw you wrap one around your waist and bend and wash our feet. I just could not take it in. It seemed to me as if all were falling in around us. Here we were, not even a place to call our own – gathered in a borrowed room. They all seemed so close to you. John, leaning back on your breast. How innocent he seemed, childish even and you seemed all right with that. Peter, changing his mind as ever – first he wouldn’t let you wash his feet and then he wanted a shower! And you seemed all right with that. Then you talked about denial and one by one the table assured you that there’d be no denial. Yes, I said it too and somehow that’s when I seemed to change. You didn’t seem to expect much from us. “one of you will betray me” – I’m not sure whether I imagined it or not but I thought I heard you say it would be the one to whom you hand the piece of bread – maybe I just imagined it but when you passed it to me, something clicked. Something changed and suddenly I forgot the conversations we had. I forgot all the wonderful things you said and my ears wandered from you to those who whispered on the edge of our gatherings about you being a “wanted man”.
Those voices took over and the whispering grew louder in my head. Faces matched the voices and I just found myself going to those faces. Temptation I suppose. That’s what happens when we take our eyes off you and suddenly and I honestly don’t know how it happened, I was in front of them, making a deal with them for thirty sliver pieces. You’re right – you were always right – it wasn’t the money. I know the others don’t believe that but it wasn’t. I couldn’t have cared less about the money. Something just clicked. They asked what sign I’d give. That’s the bit that upsets me most. Jesus, I told them I’d give you a kiss – I betrayed you with a kiss. That’s the bit that gets me most. I know you had respect for the kiss – you told us that the night that Mary (Magdalene wasn’t it) covered your feet with kisses and I let you down with one …. I’m so SO sorry.
You see now I know what you were saying to us when you took the bread and wine. Now I know you wanted me to slow down, to follow your lead and not always have to set my own pace. For what it’s worth Jesus, I banged those silver pieces off the ground and when they scattered, I remembered the scattered tables in the temple and thought I’m doing this much, at least, in memory of him …..