A Theory of Infimum
In viewing our Sun’s visible spectrum one can see gaps, which appear as black lines. These are called “Fraunhofer Lines.” They appear where the Sun’s light is blocked in its own atmosphere. The Sun’s photons encounter cold gases, are absorbed, and deflected from their initial path.
The Lord came to save all mankind, and the Twelve were a rainbow of personalities. This spectrum would not be complete without its own Fraunhofer Line, or people we know as psychopaths. Perhaps Judas Iscariot was the dark band in the Lord’s rainbow, and a reminder to the future Church that it will always harbor those who fail or betray it.
Something happened to Judas, maybe in the womb, or as a child. He lost the ability to feel empathy for his fellow man. He did not feel guilt or shame when he sinned. He did not need to be forgiven, and thus could not understand the Lord. He served himself.
His presence is a source of tension among the Apostles. He steals money from the common purse for his own purposes. He chides Mary of Bethany for not selling the perfume; those funds would have passed through his hands! They do not understand why the Lord chose him, much less given him the purse. Matthew would have been the logical choice, both a publican and an educated man. Trusted and used to handling money. The presence of Judas and Jesus trust in him is a test of their faith, and causes some doubts on their part.
There is growing fear on the Apostles’ part at the time of the Last Supper. There are rumors that Jesus will be arrested. Jesus has said before that one of them will betray him. Revolutions are spoiled by informants. They all worry they are the one, but they eventually come to focus on Judas.
They decide they must protect the Lord from his own innocence. They will force the issue, and do something about Judas. They are not sure what they will do, but Peter has brought a sword that night. Maybe they can scare Judas away. The Lord sees all this of course. The Apostles prompt the Lord to name Judas as the betrayer. The Lord will not name him, and instead gives communion to him. Bread dipped in wine, it is a dark and heavy Eucharist, a foreshadowing of all the unworthy communions that will be received down through the history of the Church. He then sends Judas away, defusing the confrontation. The Apostles are confused. Has the Lord come to his senses and dismissed Judas?
Later, Judas returns with the Temple guards and Roman soldiers to arrest Jesus. Judas is the cleverest Apostle, and always sees his own advantage. He knows Jesus is not the political leader some Apostles think he is, and that his mission is coming to an end. There will be no position for Judas to profit from in an earthly kingdom, not even a common purse to steal from. So why shouldn’t he gain from what is going to happen anyway?
Judas has never tried to truly approach the Lord. He does so tonight in order to betray him. God turns this embrace, however ill-intentioned, into an opportunity to bridge the gap, and approach Judas. At the moment of contact, the Lord’s power goes out of him, and Judas feels guilt for the first time in his life.
Peter is in a rage. There are too many to fight, but he will, at least, punish the traitor. He tries to strike Judas with his sword, but accidentally hits the servant Malchus instead. Malchus is an example of those we unintentionally hurt when we seek revenge. The Lord stops the violence from escalating, and Judas runs away in the confusion.
Judas is overwhelmed by strange, new feelings; shame, guilt, sorrow. He tries to make an atonement of sorts, by returning the silver pieces to the Temple. This is unsatisfactory. He will not go to the other Apostles out of shame and fear. He is alone. He knows Jesus is going to die, but because he does not know of the Resurrection, he feels the only atonement he can make is to die too.
You may have your own Fraunhofer lines in your life, and they may even be someone you love. And in that constellation of the communion of saints, there must be some dark stars that eternally nova now from grace. You might pray for their intercession in these matters, for they are the lower bound of salvation.