POSTSCRIPT / March 27, 2018 / Tuesday


Opinion Columnist

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Betrayal: Was it fate or human frailty?

THE GOSPEL today, Holy Tuesday, tells of Judas Iscariot’s impending betrayal of Christ, selling his master to the authorities for 30 pieces of silver just hours after He had gathered the apostles for their Last Supper and final commissioning.

Even as Christ broke bread and sipped wine with them for the last time, He knew that one of them – and He gave them hints who — was going to deliver Him that night to the posse led by the high priests.

He knew that what had been prophesied would soon come to pass, and He was humanly afraid of it. As the Son of God, He could have prevented or postponed it, but He yielded to the will of the Father and accepted the bitter cup.

Judas’ betrayal and his being the central actor in that episode in the Gethsemane garden of olives raised for the nth time the question: Was it a quirk of human frailty or was Judas merely a victim of fate?

Was Judas, who kept the group’s money bag, blinded by the glint of silver, or was he blackmailed into squealing on the boss, or was he just playing out a role assigned by fate or destiny?

Without Judas, could there have been the crucifixion and the eventual redemption of mankind from original sin? Did the storyline of Christ require a Judas, who must therefore not be answerable for his acting according to a pre-ordained script?

But fate or the notion of predestination wipes away the concepts of sin and accountability – and the consequences of damnation or redemption. Without faith and forgiveness, what part will Religion play in our lives?

These interesting questions have been discussed spiritedly back and forth by great minds through the ages, and the definitive answer still seems to be: We do not know for sure.

Above the convoluted arguments pro and con, however, this sinner staunchly believes in accountability, and the possibility of forgiveness and moral regeneration.

Leaders who impose their will on the citizens cannot blame their mistakes and misrule on others or the circumstances, especially when committed with impunity, arrogance and the absence of regard for human dignity.

Shunning accountability, government officials shaking off blame for maladministration, or continuing to misinform and mislead the people, are not only incompetent, but are also cowards.

• Today’s Gospel, according to John

THIS is the Gospel read today, Holy Tuesday, according to John 13:21-33, 36-38:

“Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.’

“The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant. One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side. So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant.

“He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, ‘Master, who is it?’

“Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.’

“So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him.

“So Jesus said to him, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly.’ Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him.

“Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him, ‘Buy what we need for the feast’ or to give something to the poor.

“So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.

“When he had left, Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, ‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.’

“Simon Peter said to him, ‘Master, where are you going?’

“Jesus answered him, ‘Where I am going, you cannot follow me now, though you will follow later.’

“Peter said to him, ‘Master, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’

“Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.”

(PS: The actual betrayal by Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane is narrated in the Gospel for tomorrow, Holy Wednesday, although the Last Supper and the kiss of betrayal happened that same night.)


SPIRITUAL RETREAT: Seeing that picture yesterday of President Rodrigo Duterte kneeling and praying with his eyes closed, we started hoping that he, like some past presidents, will find time to gather his Cabinet, advisers and close friends for a Lenten Holy Retreat.

This is not to intrude into his personal beliefs and practices, but we believe that the president of a dominantly Christian country can gain more strength and wisdom by going through periodic spiritual exercises, or whatever he chooses to call them.

We also believe that spiritual renewal will help strengthen our people adjust to disturbing situations brought about by radical changes being introduced by the Duterte administration.

(First published in the Philippine STAR of March 27, 2018)

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