When some cool high street barista asks for your name with your coffee order have you ever found that they misheard you and called you something weird. Or have you ever given a weird name. It seems that Richard Ashcroft lead singer of the Verve, remember Bittersweet Symphony, was in a New York cafe and he gave the name Judas.
He was shocked at the response. How could a name from thousands of years ago provoke such reaction, he wondered. Surely its time to let it go. Ashcroft wrote a song about the incident.
Judas is not someone we give a lot of time to. Ever notorious as the disciple who betrayed Jesus with a kiss, most of us see him as Satan incarnate who sold his soul for thirty pieces of silver. If only Judas was that simple. Judas’s story is complex.
Over the years songs by Lady Gaga, Bob Dylan as well as the musical Jesus Christ Superstar have helped me look at Judas in deeper and more personal way. A particular favourite song is U2’s Until The End of The World. No sermon or Easter reflection that I can give could quite conjure such a roller coaster insight into the vital events and emotions of the Judas of holy week as Edge’s guitar on that song.
That U2 song was influenced by a poetry collection called Book Of Judas by Irish poet Brendan Kennelly. In literally hundreds of poems, Kennelly looked at the Judas in all of us, all our little betrayals personal and societal.
All these songs and poems raise their voices in my soul every Holy Week.
In the preface to Book Of Judas Keneally asks if Judas was “A man whose vision of things was being throttled by another, more popular vision?”
This week I find myself wondering if Judas was just a guy trying to manipulate his agenda and push Jesus into doing it his way.
And maybe I have my own agenda that I want to manipulate Jesus into fulfilling, driven by politics, economics or theology.
In the end my biggest question is, do I still cling to my thoughts and ambitions instead of the revolutionary upside down ones of Jesus who calls me to pick up my own cross and follow him… not betray him for some other popular agenda.