23rd Sunday Ordinary Time – Judas and “sinning against…”
So, here’s a conjecture, a thought, a theory, an hypothesis, a dang good guess. What if last Sunday’s gospel reflected the early community’s wound that they had not reached out to Judas? Watch this:
The Greek, hamartano, “to sin against,” appears three times in Matthew. The first instance began the gospel. The second begins the gospel for the 24th Sunday Ordinary Time. Then note the third.
Matthew 18:15 “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.
Matthew 18:21 Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”
Matthew 27:4f He said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself.
Put these three together. Connect the dots. Judas, a brother / another member of the church makes the claim that he sinned by betraying innocent blood. There are four issues here. First, he went to the wrong people for reconciliation, the keepers of the temple and the guardians of dispensing forgiveness. Second, he didn’t go to the church and he didn’t go to Jesus on the cross. Third, the church didn’t seek him out like the lone sheep who strayed! Or, fourth, Judas went to Peter, but Peter turned him down not forgiving him even once?
Could it be that the Matthew’s community had ‘survivors’ guilt’ over Judas’ hanging? And could it be that they set up the chain of events intended to reconcile a person (which we read about last Sunday) in response to not seeking the sheep who strayed?
Who knows? But playing out this conjecture makes Jesus’ twin injunctions in chapter 18 more compelling to me. Just a thought.