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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Judas

I'm not going to talk about the bogus "gospel"; I have not read it nor do I need to in order to know it's a piece of crap.

This post is about the true Biblical Judas and the purpose he served.

I have never understood Judas. He was one of the apostles, therefore he was called by Christ. And Christ, being God, already knew all about Judas, and still he called him. And Judas came. But what really motivated him?

We know from the Gospels that Judas was a thief; he held the money bag and complained when Jesus' feet was annointed because he, Judas, was stealing and wanted the money for himself if any was to be spent. Therefore he was a con. He was a traitor, but was he really? Maybe he was more of a spy, because in order to be a traitor one has to actually hold the opposing position prior to betraying it. He was never converted. He was a criminal in his own right, was Judas.

Judas was a sinner.

We know that Judas betrayed Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane with a kiss for only 30 pieces of silver. We know that he later repented, knowing that he had betrayed innocent blood, and he tried to give the money back, but the bloody hands of the Pharisee's refused the rejection of an act which was already completed and signed in blood.

Did Judas sell his soul in order to betray Jesus Christ?

It says in the Gospels that after Judas took the piece of bread which was dipped in the same dish as Jesus, Satan entered him. So was Judas acting under the possession of Satan, or of his own willful accord or both?

Judas repented, though as he realized his sin. He repented and he returned the blood money. He repented.

I can't get past this.

Judas repented.

And then he hung himself. He repented and then killed himself.

We, as Catholics, believe that suicide, the taking of one's own life, which is murder, to be a mortal sin. We also recognize that some who committ suicide do so under the duress of a mental illness, and so the sin may be mitigated. Only God can read the heart.

When I was a teenager, I nearly committed suicide, and that is for another post. I believe that my sin was mortal; I knew what I was doing and I was rejecting God. My Mother, a few years later, also attempted suicide and was subsequently hospitalized as I signed on as her guardian for the purposes of the 72 hour hold when I was only 18. She was mentally ill and had been diagnosed long before. I do not believe she committed mortal sin because she was not thinking clearly....she was not acting by her own hand. But what of Judas? From all accounts, he was not mentally ill and was fully aware of what he had done.

Was it despair? Was his real sin despair? He realized that he had betrayed Jesus Christ unjustly, but did he really know who Jesus Christ was, or did that realization hit him after the kiss upon his cheek?

In Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ", Judas looked over at a decaying ox which was crawling with maggots. I read an account or maybe heard one on Relevant Radio explaining the scene...the camera pans to the the oxen which shows the teeth in the center of the shot. It then pans to Judas, weeping, his teet in the center of the shot. They had to do the scene over and over again, and finally they told the actor, "Pretend that the ox is your soul". The result was the impact we see.

I can't help but feel compassion for Judas because I am a sinner, too. How many times have I betrayed Jesus? How many times have I rejected him in favor of some shiny trinket, or even 30 of them?

Search your souls, people. You are Judas, too. You have been evil, you have betrayed Jesus, and you have sold yourself for all sorts of sins. We all have.

And that's why Jesus had to die. For the maggoty likes of us.

But did Jesus die for Judas?

I do not mean to imply that he was a good guy because he certainly was not. He betrayed Christ.

But I can't get beyond his repentance his and subsequent suicide. What I see here is that he was aware of what he had done and he despaired of reconciliation because he could not turn back the clock. He could not go back and make things right; he could not even apologize. He knew that he had killed the Savior through his actions and he could not even bear to watch because he wore that blood also.

Is that what we are to learn? That Judas sinnned more in his despair than he did in the act of betrayal itself? And when he hung himself for a tree (as Jesus was also hung from a tree), he officially turned away from the mercy of Jesus which could still have been available to him.

Judas could still have been "saved". Can you imagine a Gospel where Judas arived at the foot of the cross and begged for Jesus' mercy? Wouldn't Jesus have absolved him on the spot, begging the Father to forgive for he knew not what he had done?

But Judas did not even explore that possibility. He ran away. He fled, and instead of life and redemption, he chose death. Is that what the Sacred Scripture teaches, and what the Church teaches?

I am asking this in all sincerity as I have never taken a Bible study course. I have never had the opportunity either due to financial concerns or work schedule. I am no theologin and even my religious training at St. Mary's University in Winona was heretical, sad to say.

I ask of those of you who have actual knowledge of the Church's teaching to please comment and reveal how we are to see Judas...or are we only to leave him to the mercy of Jesus. Are we to pray for his soul, or is he considered to be a lost cause? I read somewhere that his is the only soul the Church deems to be in Hell, but is this true? I somehow doubt it because it contradicts the message of Divine Mercy and the very death Jesus died on the cross for all of us.

It's for all of us, not all of us except Judas.

I can't get past the mercy of Jesus...what are we to do about Judas?

5 comments:

Julie D. said...

From what I understand Judas' sin was the despair you mention when he could not bring himself to go to Jesus ... or merely to stay the course and live with what he had done.

Giving the money back could have been mere guilt instead of sincere repentance. There is definitely a difference between the two.

By contrast, Peter who betrayed Jesus right in front of his eyes according to one Gospel, went running to Jesus when they saw him on the beach.

That is the difference.

As for Judas' soul, the Church does not judge. That is for God alone. We don't know what Judas felt or prayed to God in those final seconds of life. The Church never says that someone went to hell just as Jesus wouldn't answer that question when it was put to him.

Also, we must remember that Judas probably was not the first person to deliberately turn away from God without ever seeking mercy and forgiveness ... and, sadly, he probably is not the last.

If you feel called to pray for his soul, I don't see how it could hurt. Or to pray for all those who feel great despair that they will feel the hope that Judas could not.

Ray from MN said...

Much of the power of the Bible lies in what is unwritten. Had all the questions been answered in the first edition, the Church probably would have died out in a few hundred years, if it had thrived at all.

I've felt for years that God reveals Himself to us, slowly, taking into consideration our ability to understand.

Thus, over the centuries countless inspired Doctors of the Church, saints, theologians and holy peopple have stood up and explained the story to us. There is far more power in their explanations than in a mere repetition of the story.

And as the nuns who taught me grade school would respond when somebody asked a question they had no answer to - - 'It's a mystery. If you don't understand, offer it up for the souls in Purgatory.'

It doesn't hurt to meditate on questions like the guilt or ultimate dispositon of Judas, as long as it is done with the understanding the God made the final decision.

alamarang said...

The one sin that the Church says is unforgivable is the sin against the Holy Spirit; dispare. There are two points. Judas betrayed Jesus and Peter denied him. Peter repented and believed that Jesus would forgive him. Judas however despaired and commited suicide. Judas commited the unforgivable sin by thinking that he was to bad to be forgiven and not accepting that Jesus could and most certainly would. Therefore, Judas is known to be in Hell and so our prayers cannot help him.

One more thing, reccomended reading: Dante's Inferno, the divine commedy... I think it might spark your interest

Our Word said...

While the Church has no definitive teaching on this, I believe that many of the Church Fathers held to the idea that the two people most likely in hell were Judas and Nero. (Nero being the Beast mentioned as being thrown in th eothe lake of fire in Revelation.)

Fr. Welzbacher, who's certainly a student of history as well as Church teaching, referenced in his Good Friday sermon Jesus saying of the one who would betray Him that it would have been better had he had not been born. As Fr. Welzbacher said, if Judas had ended up in heaven, or even if he was in purgatory until the end of time, that clearly wouldn't be the case.

So while it's true that we can't know for certain, it has been a traditionally held belief that Judas wound up in hell, most probably for the sin of despair.

Our Word said...

Whoops, should have kept going. I meant to add that in Anne Catherine Emmerich's The Dolorous Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ,, she states firmly the damnation of Judas. Of course, this is not a public revelation, but I think many people have put a great deal of stock in her writings.

On the other hand, in the interest of providing balance, we do have JPII's statement that "The silence of the Church is, therefore, the only appropriate position for Christian faith. Even when Jesus says of Judas, the traitor, 'It would be better for that man if he had never been born' (Mt 26:24), His words do not allude for certain to eternal damnation.”

Again, the bottom line is that we don't know for certain, but one would be quite safe in citing the classic thinking of the Church Fathers as to the ultimate disposition of Judas, which is to say that he is in hell.