Betrayal of Judas (detail)
THE 18. Meditation of the death of Judas.
Then Judas, who had betrayed him, seeing that he was condemned, repenting himself brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the high Priests, and to the Elders, saying: I have sinned, betraying just blood: But they said, what is that to us? Look you to it.
Consider first that Judas hearing of the condemnation of Christ by the high Priests, being led by repentance, either good, through the greatness of his offense, or false; through the shame, whereby he thought he should never be able to endure the reproaches, which would insue, brought again the money. This also was permitted by God, whereby the innocency of Christ might be manifested to all men, least the Jews by this argument might confirm the death of our Lord to be just because his inward disciple, who knew all secrets had delivered him up to them to die. But Judas betrayed out Lord, not that Christ should die, but because he would have the money, hoping that as at divers times before, so at this time also our Lord might escape. Learn first the innocency of our Lord, which the Traitor himself confessed openly, with most earnest words, and by throwing down of the money. Secondly the bitter torments four Lord, which moved the very Traitor to repentance. Thirdly the qualities of the Devil, who bewitched our eyes, before the sin be committed, least we should see the foulness thereof; but after the sin, he openeth the same, that we should despair.
Consider secondly the answer of the Priests (What is that to us) Peter after his sin committed, went out from the company of the wicked, and obtained pardon: Judas contrariwise came to the wicked, & fell into desperation. Learn hereby that they which offend the Majesty of God because they may have the favor of other men, are after forsaken by them, & that always after this life, when every one shall bear his own burden, and often times also even in this life.
Consider thirdly the grievous burden of an evil conscience, which feared neither shame nor death. Do thou lamenting for thy sins, say with Judas, I have sinned, betraying just blood: which is to say, I have through my sins cast oftentimes from my self the passion of Christ, which was given me for my souls health. But trusting in the mercy of Christ, despair not, but in thy prayer add this, O Lord restore it thou unto me, that it may profit my soul.
Consider fourthly, that it is manifest by the answer of the Priests, that Christ died not for any fault committed by himself, but of mere malice & envy. For this (what is that to us) is a much to say, it skilleth not, whether he die justly or unjustly, so he die.
Consider fifthly, (look thou to that) evil men give only matter of despair : Learn thereby first the disposition of wicked superiors, who care not how their subjects live, so as they may enjoy their own profit, and pleasure. Learn secondly, to suffer with the afflicted, and to comfort them, at least with good words, if otherwise thou art not able. Learn thirdly in they afflictions, not to repair to every one, but to seek out those, whose God hath appointed to be the guiders of thy soul, & are commended for their life and wisdom.
And casting down the pieces of silver in the Temple, he went aside, and going away, he hanged himself in a halter, & being hanged, he brake in the midst, and all his bowels were scattered.
Consider first that the fact of Judas, which exceeded all measure of revenge, deserved no other Judge, or executioner, then Judas himself. For if he had been put to death by another, he might have hoped for pardon: But hanging himself, he committed a new sin of murder, & desperation. Behold how one sin is increased by another, if thou dost not prevent them in time.
Consider secondly how wickedly the Apostates from faith and religion do commonly perish. Take thou heed least thou forsake the Church or thy vocation: For thous shalt fall into the snare of the Devil, and the Devil will stand at thy right hand, (which David fore-spake of Judas) tossing thee here according to his will, and at last casting thee down into Hell.
Consider thirdly, what is the end of sinners: Even this, that hanging in the air they shall touch neither Heaven nor Earth, and possess nothing but the rope. For they reject heavenly things and are deprived of temporal goods, which only they sought after, and being inchained with the chain of sin, they are detained and held up by the Devil the Prince of this air. And certainly at the end of their life, these things do always happen to sinners, & oftentimes even in this life to some, who being despoiled of their earthly goods. are nevertheless so cooked up with wicked desires that they can hardly lift up their eyes to Heaven.
Consider fourthly, that he cracked in the midst, and his bowels poured out: that he, which had lost the bowels of charity, might also loose his own bowels, & that he which employed all his care to enjoy many things, might loose also his own entrails. Do thou with Judas cast away money, riches, and all worldly things, but go to no other tree, then the Cross of our Lord, and pray him that he will tie thee fast unto him, and loosing all the knots of thy sins, bind thee with the chain of his love: For if Judas himself (as St. Leo affright) had obtained remedy from Christ crucified, if he had not hastened to the halter, thou mayest have an assured hope to obtain pardon and grace.
But the chief Priests taking the money said: It is not lawful to put it into the treasury, because it is the price of blood: and taking counsel they bought therewith a potters field, for the burial of strangers, and for that cause the field is called Halceldema, that is, the field of blood, even to this day. Then it was fulfilled which was spoken by the Prophet Hieremy: And they took thirty pieces of sliver being the price of the appriced, whose they priced of the Sons of Israel, and they gave them into a potters field, as our Lord hath appointed me.
Consider first the goodness and gentleness of God, who would have his servants so far from all effusion of blood, that in the old law would not permit them to have the money wherewith the death of any man was procured.
Consider secondly the preposterous religion of these Priests, which feared not to defile their consciences with innocent blood, and yet were afraid to pollute their treasury with the price of blood. Thou art like unto them, so oft as thou mayest great account of small things, and hast small regard f grievous sins against God, straining a Gnat, and swallowing a Camel.
Consider thirdly the Jews converted not this money to their own use, but to the behalf of other men: That by this thou mayest learn, 1. That Christ was wholly given unto us, his very price also being bestowed upon us. 2. The liberality of covetous men, who give Alms, not of their own, but of other mens money.
Consider Fourthly that with this money a field was bought for the burial of standers: that thou mayest learn, first that not only our souls, but our bodies also received great benefits by the death of Christ: For whatsoever good is bestowed upon man, we ought to acknowledge all to proceed from the passion of Christ Secondly that through the death of Christ we have true & everlasting rest. Thirdly according to St. Ambrose and Saint Hierome, that this word (which in another place is called a field, which God the workman made of nothing) was bought with the price of the blood of Christ, not for the burial of all men, but only of strangers, which therein only they should rest with a quiet conscience, who making themselves strangers on earth. look still to the heavenly country. Therefore if thou intends to be partakers of this price, be a stranger, shut thine eyes to worldly things: desire no earthly goods, to be brief, die unto the world, that thou mayest rest sweetly in Christ.
Consider fifthly That this was confirmed unto us, either by the prophesy of Hieremy, in those books which came not to us, or of Zachary (as the common opinion is the name of Hieremy being put in, not by the Evangelist, but by some other writer) or of both, as Epiphanies affrimeth. Thou maist learn hereby that the price of Christ was not only prefigured in the price, for which Joseph before time had been should, but foretold also by the Prophets, with admiration, that for the price of thirty pieces of silver (whereof every one is valued at half a dollar) the Messias expected so many ages should be brought and sold. Doest not you sell Christ, and everlasting life for a baser price, when thou refuse and reject his grace for a little filthy lust, for money, or vain desire of honor? Return then unto thy self, consider the inestimable value of the blood of Christ, and suffer any thing rather then he shall be taken from thee.