There's a tradition in some places in Poland to throw a figure of Judas Iscariot from the top of a church steeple and then to throw sticks and stones at it while dragging it through the streets. What is left is drowned in a pond or stream. In other places, on this Wednesday of Holy Week, an effigy of Judas is burned or hanged.

How do such traditions start and continue? Is it because there's something in all of us that wants a scapegoat, someone to blame for the evil of which we are all capable? Someone to take responsibility for getting things wrong, as any of us can, even from the best of intentions. We want to say 'it is him', 'it is her', 'it is them'. We are reluctant to search our hearts and ask, 'is it I?' 

It is at the Last Supper that Jesus foretells his betrayal by his friend Judas. Jesus had already washed his feet, along with those of his other disciples. Jesus is sharing a meal with his close companions. He shares bread with them and picks out Judas for special honour. Here is the account from John's Gospel
"After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, ‘Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, ‘Do quickly what you are going to do.’ Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, ‘Buy what we need for the festival’; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night. 
When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once." John 13: 21 - 32 (NRSV)

Other posts on this theme:

Detail of stained glass window image credit:Wikipedia, CC License


Popular posts from this blog

Mary Sumner, Founder of the Mothers' Union

Maximilian Kolbe (1894 - 1941)

What is a holiday?

Clare of Assisi, Founder of the Minoresses (Poor Clares)

The Transfiguration of our Lord