When we learn about the lives of the Apostles, our time is generally focused on the years spent with Jesus and the time after Pentecost; how they courageously went out and proclaimed the Good News. And while inspiring, it does cause one to pause when we learn about their martyrdoms – here is a sampling- Bartholomew was flayed; Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross; Peter hung upside down on a cross, etc…
But Judas the betrayer; how often do we think about his life? Perhaps not enough. He was a follower of Jesus throughout His entire ministry. He was entrusted with the care of the money, so he must have seemed trustworthy. He heard Jesus teach, witnessed the healings and miracles, and yet he freely allowed Satan to enter him (Luke 22:3). The father of lies (John 8:44) led him from the light to darkness. This movement was gradual as the little acts of disloyalty, infidelity, pride, resistance to grace, and greed for money led to his fall to the larger temptation and ultimate betrayal of Jesus.
You may ask—where is this going? Thinking about his life and what we can glean from the Scriptures, we see how to live and what to avoid. Because we want to abide in Christ and walk where He walked (1 John 2:6), we must be vigilant. By knowing the virtues we are better equipped to counter the darkness with the light of goodness and truth.
When we sense a tug to commit the “little thefts” as Judas did, it is good to remember we can counter these with virtue; that is, selfishness to generosity, indulgence to moderation, anger to meekness, laziness to industriousness, inflexibility to docility – these are just a few examples of changing toward the good.
The lives of the apostles clearly show us the impact of living virtuously in Christ. As they preached and bore witness to Truth, the people around them changed and Christianity spread. This same transformation can take place in your home, school, and parish community and is usually more effectively supported by how we live. Don’t be like Judas and look in disdain upon those who fill the room with a changing fragrance of goodness (John 12:3-8). Rather, breathe it in and ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you need to change. The culture changes as people change.