What is your honest reaction when you hear the name JUDAS? What is the first thing that pops up your mind?
Around past 3:00 AM, an irksome feeling awakened me. Aside from the early call of Mother Nature, my ill-stomach reacted to my pain-stricken heart. I thought I would be at peace since I already prayed about it with God many times and I already reconciled with the significant persons. But the memories of past betrayals of some trusted friends and confidante tortured me again. Being guilty of some betrayals, related to a significant circumstance, I sought my heart again of why this annoying feeling recurred?
Being betrayed is like being killed softly with the most artistic craft. I may have experienced some betrayals, but nothing compares to that which Jesus suffered.
After attending to ate Leah’s needs like turning her (her bedsore isn’t fully healed yet), and using the suction machine to take the phlegm through her trachea opening (she undergone tracheotomy), I went to the rest room. I brought the book I’m delving this time, READING JUDAS. I decided not to return to bed and continue reading, knowing that the best time to read is at dawn; the mind is still fresh and uncluttered.
Reading Judas is a fascinating book. The fact that another Gospel existed, and peculiar enough, it was the Gospel of Judas; written by world-renown scholars, challenged me to the highest level. This book was a gift given by Ma’am Jopen (Josephine Cuneta), one of the wordsmiths of the Freelance Writers of the Philippines (FWP). We personally met during the first FWP Education Committee members’ assembly (please read my earlier post, WORDSMITHS’ RENDEZVOUS). It is brand new! It was sealed and still with a tag price, P1, 200 from ‘A DIFFERENT BOOKSTORE’. J Actually, we had a book exchange, but to my surprise, she gave four books of different genre. She has a lot in her library and she needed not books in return. Those books are treasures! I’m privileged!
Unlike when reading novels, I have a slower pace when reading theological and inspirational books. I want to pause once in a while to contemplate on the passages and to ponder again and again to the significant sentences or paragraphs. I would also include my Bible or other references to check and to compare the content. Most importantly, I would have a thesaurus or a dictionary to help me understand queer words. It’s like eating food; I would thoroughly masticate it to understand its content, knowing that it would be nourishment for my mental and spiritual aspects. But not all inspirational books and theological books are good food for the soul, not all can strengthen the spirituality. Some of such kind of books shook my faith. I’ve read some from John Detwiler Memorial Library at the Adventist University of the Philippines. I’m open-minded. I apply the maxim: “Don’t judge the book by its cover!”
Here, am I writing about a book with a cover of the controversial Judas, kissing his Master before his crucifixion. I didn’t judge the book by its cover, not even with its title: READING JUDAS: The Gospel of Judas and the Shaping of Christianity. The authors are KAREN L. KING, a Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the Harvard Divinity School and the author of the four books, including THE GOSPEL OF MARY OF MAGDALA and WHAT IS GNOSTICISM?; ELAINE PAGELS is Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion at Princeton University and the author of six previous books, including the GNOSTIC GOSPELS (winner of the National Book Critics Award and the National Book Award), and the New York Times bestseller BEYOND BELIEF.
Since I just started reading it this week, I can’t give my two cents beyond these. I want to finish the book first. So please bear with me and keep posted! Sir Nick Beltran, a fellow from the FWP Educ. Comm. cautioned and encouraged me at the same time: “You’ll like that Reading Judas book. It’s a different take on the gospels. 🙂 Then again you might not, if you’re hardcore RC. Lailanie. hehehe.” Another one, Sir Raymound Dimayuga, thrilled me more when he mentioned that he has a National Geographic Society’s documentation of Reading Judas, and he’s willing to give a copy of it! It was actually mentioned in the introduction of the book: “For more than a decade we had heard rumors that a fabled gospel to Judas Iscariot had been discovered. In April 2006, the archaeological find was at last made public by the National Geographic Society…”. Going back to Sir Nick, I’m not a hardcore Roman Catholic, but an open-minded Seventh-day Adventist.
There’s nothing wrong being curios. But I know that “curiosity kills the cat”, as the cliché goes. Too much curiosity led Eve to linger on the forbidden ground, which weakened her to doubt God and succumb to the temptation of the cunning SERPENT. I am aware of it. I can only be confident with the guidance of the Holy Spirit who inspired the writers of the Holy Bible. If the Gospel of Judas is genuine and profound, that same Holy Spirit who inspired Judas would make me discern his writings. But if he wasn’t inspired, it’s would be too obvious. I still cling to God’s unchanging litmus tests: “By their fruits, ye shall know them…” Matthew 7:16. “To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this WORD, it is because there is no light in them.” Isa. 8:20
There are ugly scars that remind me of horrible wounds. There are healed wounds with ugly scars that are wound afresh when painful memories flash back. I don’t know when it would stop recurring. I know it is the devil’s wiles to replay ugly pictures of the past, scary memoir of the betrayals and denials. But I know that there’s only ONE who truly understands and who truly helps – JESUS, the WOUNDED HEALER. He experienced every terrible betrayal and denial, and every kind of excruciating pain the human could feel. With “His stripes, we are healed.”Isaiah 53: 5 Isn’t He wonderful?
Now, let me ask you once again. What is your honest reaction when you hear the name JUDAS? What is the first thing that pops up your mind?