Judas and Us

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How many Christians have wished that they could have been present with Christ while He was here on Earth!  To walk with Him, to listen to His parables, to see Him perform miracles and perhaps to ask Him questions.  Greatest of all privileges:  to be present at the Last Supper, the first Mass.  Imagine being present when He turned bread into His flesh and wine into His blood.  A true foretaste of Heaven!  What Christian worthy of that name would not trade everything he owns to experience that!  The mind then reels when we consider Judas.

He walked with Christ, and talked with Christ.  He saw the miracles. He participated at the first Mass.  Then he went out and betrayed Christ.  What motivated Judas to do this, and what caused him to bitterly regret his betrayal and then hang himself?  We can only guess.  He was a thief and stole from the common purse that he was in charge of.  He condemned the “waste” of oil for the feet of Christ, claiming it could have been used for the poor.  Did he betray Christ merely because of his lust for money?  I do not think so.  In his remorse over his betrayal of Jesus he threw back at the feet of the priests the blood money he had been paid.  If not money, then why?

Perhaps simple doubt.  We are certain that we would not be afflicted by such doubt if we had seen Christ.  Really?  We know that the movement he created now claims the allegiance of two billion people on the planet, and we can see how the Truth He preached has endured for twenty centuries.  Yet, how many of us turn away from Christ?   How many of us have cherished sins that we are unable to give up?  How many of us live our lives as if Christ never came to us?

Considering that, let us place ourselves in the shoes of Judas.  We know he was weak or he would not have been a thief.  By the time of the Last Supper he may have been filled with fear that Christ was heading towards disaster, His movement doomed to be crushed by either the Temple priests or the Romans.  The way in which the Disciples ran away, the denials of Peter, demonstrate that Judas would not have been alone in such fears.  Yes, it is quite likely that Judas betrayed Christ out of fear and doubt.  If Christ was headed towards destruction anyway, it only made common sense to get on the right side of the powers that be.  Looking at the contemporary world, how many of us make such a Judas bargain day by day, as we slowly betray Christ with our sins, our doubts and our desire to curry favor with the dominant powers that be of the World?

In his weakness and in his doubt, Judas has proven to be a horrible role model for all too many Catholics.  If Judas had been an evil monster, a stick figure of a morality play, it would be easy to condemn him and forget him.  However, there is too much recognition of ourselves in Judas as revealed in the Bible.  As we sit in Mass tonight, let us imagine another Judas.  A Judas who did not betray Christ but stood beside Him and died with Him.  As Judas tightened the noose around his neck, perhaps such an image flashed through his mind of what could have been.  Unlike Judas, there is still time for us.  We can turn away from our betrayals of Christ and vow to stand by Him and His Truth, come what may.

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9 Comments

  1. ” We are certain that we would not be afflicted by such doubt if we had seen Christ.”

    Christ once told his apostles that all the miracles in the world wouldn’t change some minds.
    The most often undersold mystery of the Church is the simple mystery of our free will and how it can possibly reject God’s graces…yet there’s that rebellion thing by Lucifer.

  2. Saints of old have constantly begged the faithful to “set your hearts and minds on things above, not on things of this world.” The pull is so great to worship the things of man, yet with Gods help we can pick up our hearts and minds, and begin each day focusing on our true homeland. Our destination.
    Only with Gods help via Our Lady, are we able to have the love John the beloved had, and not the lust Judas had.

  3. An interesting theory I read about a few years ago was that Judas recognized exactly who Jesus was and the great power He had at his command. However, Judas was bitterly disappointed that Jesus appeared to not be interested in establishing an earthly kingdom. Judas decided to force Christ’s hand–surely Christ would unleash his power to protect himself and his followers once Christ’s enemies had him in their clutches. Judas was shocked when Jesus refused to destroy his enemies and went willingly to his death.

  4. If I recall correctly, the first indication of Judas’s betrayal is at the end of John 6, after Jesus’s discourse on the Bread of Life. Then he walked out of the Last Supper. The very practical-minded Judas was not apparently interested in mysticism. 1500 years later, Protestants left the Church over disputes about the Real Presence.

  5. I think many of us are like Peter. We believe in Christ and love Him. Yet we deny him out of weakness and fear even as He dies for us in order to save us. Judas was stealing from the purse before he ever betrayed Jesus. The remedy for the Peters of the world is that which Christ Himself gave to Peter. Engage in temporal and spiritual acts of mercy and accept martyrdom, enen if on a social level which Peter tried to avoid and later accepted.

  6. I have been Judas; and I will pray today that I am no longer. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi; quia per tuam sanctam crucem redimisti mundum. Guy McClung, San Antonio

  7. I read an article on this some years back. What the author boiled it down to is this: Judas always denied the Divinity of Christ. He just did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, let alone God the Son. Perhaps it could be said that Judas was the first Arian heretic. Sadly, along with many bishops and priests, he was not the last.

  8. I think that is right James- Judas was never really “into” Jesus… At the same time Judas was eating sleeping traveling with the group he not really participating with his heart. ..how could he when he was stealing from Him.
    .
    Thinking of Judas and of Jesus saying something about ‘better to have never been born” puts me in mind of the suggestion that pope Francis might have made about annihilationism… which makes me think of its opposite theological theory- universalism. Both bad ideas are floated today as a solution to the problem of “what happens to Judas?” whose actions could be seen as necessary if not “happy fault” –the mystery of Judas still has a powerful detrimental effect.

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