I have always loved this little parable. I don’t know where I first learned of it, but it certainly tells us the central purpose of Easter Redemption.
It is Final Judgement Day and all are joyously gathered in Heaven celebrating those who have made it into heaven. St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Francis of Assisi, St. John Paul II, your mother…all together and enjoying Eternal Life. The gates of heaven have been sealed—for all eternity, never to be opened again. Everyone is there—except Jesus. Nowhere to be found. They can’t find the boss. St. Peter searches high and low and finally finds Jesus at the gates of heaven looking downcast as he peers out of the closed gates. “Why are you not celebrating with everyone, Lord? Why are you so sad on this most joyous of days?” Jesus responds with great sorrow, “I was just looking for Judas. I had hoped that he might have come and asked me to forgive him at the last minute. If he had only come and asked me to forgive him for what he did…you know I would have forgiven him. All he had to do was ask.”
Pope Benedict has reminded us that “Every saint had a past. Every sinner has a future.” The figures in the gospel stories are people who have been redeemed from their past—saved—made new by Christ. The woman at the well, the man born blind, and most importantly, Dismiss the thief who converts in the last minutes of his wretched life to Saint Dismiss. Longinus the centurion who put Jesus to death repented of his sin and is today Saint Longinus, and Peter “wept bitterly” when he realized he had denied Christ three times, to become Saint Peter. Often we forget that both Peter and Judas had been disloyal to Christ; the difference being that Peter repented—Judas despaired. “Every saint had a past. Every sinner has a future.”
The great irony is that Judas might have been—dare I even say it—Saint Judas. All he had to do was ask for forgiveness. He was too proud. He despaired and died wallowing in his prideful sin.
Easter is about Redemption: redeeming the sinner, finding the lost, fixing the broken, and renewing a fallen world.
Redemption can be yours…if you but ask.
– Fr. Gerard Gordon