I’m a Theatre Kid, so at this time of year, my head is consumed with Godspell and Jesus Christ Soooo-Perrrrr-Staaaar! When I decided to start taking Child to Stratford, the first show we saw was JCSuperstar. I figured that being an RC Kid, he’d know the characters already, so it wouldn’t be overwhelming. Superstar is one of my favourites because it doesn’t just demonize Judas. It humanizes him, and I’ve always kind of felt like Judas got a pretty raw deal. It’s not binary good or evil.
The Wednesday of Holy Week is the day Judas started conspiring to betray JC. Spy Wednesday. So much of his story has been woven into popular culture – the Judas Kiss; betrayed by a kiss; the Tyrian shekels; the cursed silver pieces, the original blood money; the cursed tree where Judas hung himself, alone with his regret.
I get it. Everyone has, on some level, ratted someone out because you thought it was the right thing to do – to protect the person from themselves, perhaps – and then realized that you were wildly, vastly, terribly wrong. Someone had to betray JC to fulfill a prophesy. Judas was the critical path to get the Passion underway.
Ghod chooses us for different purposes in our lives. To improve the life of another person, to cure a disease, to spark a revolution, to raise a child, to write a book, to guide a friend, to lead a team, to invent the way to remove plastic from the ocean – Everyone has their purpose. Judas got dealt a terrible purpose. Judas was afraid of what was happening with his friends. He was afraid of what his friend was saying. If you had a dinner party and one of your pals said he was the Son of God, it could go one of two ways. If you were Ghodfearing, you’d fear the blasphemy afoot, or you’d be afraid for your friend’s mental health (even if there weren’t those kinds of words in your vocab). If you weren’t Ghodfearing, you might joke about it, but still likely be at least slightly concerned about how seriously your friend was taking his claims. You knew his dad – he was a carpenter. Certainly a nice guy, but not Ghod. If everyone else was drinking the Kool-Aid and you just didn’t get it, you’d be terrified. Judas didn’t have the foresight to see how wrong this was all going to go. Judas Iscariot’s biggest sin wasn’t that he turned on JC, but that he didn’t give God a chance to forgive him for the unfortunate role in which he was cast.
I’ve been doing a but of research on Judas Mythology because I really do think that Judas wasn’t exactly the villain he’s made out to be. Someone has to stay behind on the asteroid so that they can set off the nuclear weapon. Someone has to sacrifice so that the greater good can happen. It feels like that’s what happened here, too, except Judas didn’t get the choice. So when I put “Judas mythology” into the search engine, imagine my surprise when I ended up falling fangs-first down a Vampire rabbit hole.
There is a mythology around Judas that he’s the original vampire. Ghod bought Judas back to life after he hung himself, but Judas could have no mortal rest. That seems like a very Ghodly type of punishment (or reward, I guess).
But Judas wouldn’t be able to enjoy the best of his immortality – he would be tortured by the sun (which is an easy sell, since god=sun in many faith traditions). Thus, he became a night stalker.
And there’s proof right there in the Good Book! Judas was paid the silver pieces, and later tried to get out of the contract and return the money. Thus, vampire aversion to silver. Because of the betrayal, JC was crucified on an alder tree. Thus, the aversion to the wooden spike, and apparently in occult scholarship, alder spikes are the most effective to kill vampires. Because, at the Last Supper, when JC celebrated the first transubstantiation of the bread and wine into flesh and blood, Judas dips into the bowl at the same time as JC. As a result, he doesn’t get the benefit of the eucharistic sacrament. Judas is able to find nourishment from nothing other than (unconsecrated, un-transubstantiated) flesh and blood. Thus, the bloodthirst.
Even after I revisit this information, it kind of blows my mind.
Let’s take inventory: if I believe that a virgin had a Ghod-child who died tied to a tree and came back to life 3 days later then floated up to the clouds to live in heaven with His Dad, and I eat His *actual* flesh every time I go to mass, why wouldn’t I believe that Judas is the OG Vampire? Because I don’t, that’s why. For me, it’s a fun theory with some compelling proof, but that’s all. Like when you hear about creepy coincidences and conspiracy theories.
There’s a leap of faith involved in seeing the miracles of faith, and in particular during Holy Week. This Lent, may the leaps of faith not jump the shark. This Lent, when I think I’m doing the right thing, only to see that I’m really, really not, may I have the courage and strength to make it right. This Lent, may grace be stronger than fear.