Castel Gandolfo (AsiaNews) - "Jesus knew that among the 12 Apostles one did not believe, Judas," said Benedict XVI. In speaking about Judas, his unbelief, his desire to betray, his devilish nature, the pontiff used a tone not usually associated with homiletics. Compared this to Saint Peter who, in response to Jesus' question "Do you also want to leave?", answered, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God" (John, 6:67-69)."
In meeting pilgrims before the Angelus prayer in the courtyard of Castel Gandolfo, the pope spoke about today's Gospel, Twenty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time. He brought to a conclusion his discussion of the 'bread of life', referring to time when the disciples refused Jesus' offer of eating his body and blood and "returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him" (John, 6:66).
"Judas could have left as many disciples did," the pontiff explained. "Indeed, he should have left had he been honest. Instead, he stayed with Jesus, not out faith, nor out of love, but with the secret desire of taking revenge against the Master. Why? Because Judas felt betrayed by Jesus, and decided in turn to betray him. Judas was a Zealot; he wanted a winning Messiah, one who would lead a revolt against the Romans. However, Jesus did not live up these expectations. The problem is that Judas did not leave, and his fault is that of falsehood, which is the mark of the devil. For this reason, Jesus told the Twelve: "Yet is not one of you a devil?" (John, 6:70).
Benedict XVI has often dealt with the issues of evil, betrayal and "filth" within the Church. He did it a few months before his election as pope, in the Via Crucis writings of 2005. Today, his remarks might even rekindle the Vatileaks rumours about plots and conspiracies that came to light a few weeks ago; yet it is clear that some people within the Church "do not believe".
For sure, the pontiff also presented a positive model of disciple, Saint Peter. "As many disciples were leaving," the Pontiff noted, "Jesus turned towards the Apostles and said, 'Do you also want to leave?' (John, 6:67). As he did in other situations, Peter answered him on behalf of the Twelve, 'Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God' (John 6:68-69).
"In a beautiful commentary about this passage, Saint Augustine wrote: "See how Peter, by the gift of God and the renewal of the Holy Spirit, understood Him. How other than because he believed? 'You have the words of eternal life.' For You have eternal life in the ministration of Your body and blood. 'And we have believed and have known.' Not have known and believed, but 'believed and known.' For we believed in order to know; for if we wanted to know first, and then to believe, we should not be able either to know or to believe. What have we believed and known? 'That You are Christ, the Son of God;' that is, that You are that very eternal life, and that You give in Your flesh and blood only that which You are' (Tractate on John, 27:9)."
In concluding before the Angelus prayer, the pope said, "Let us pray to the Virgin Mary to help us believe in Jesus, like Saint Peter, and always be sincere with Him and others."