Sympathy for Judas

Tuesday, April 12, AD 2016

A powerful presentation in the movie The Robe (1953), by the late great Michael Ansara, of a repentant Judas sunk in the sin of despair.  Pope Francis touched upon the theme of a repentant Judas with bizarre results.  Oakes Spaulding at Mahound’s Paradise surveys the damage:

 

Then Francis presented a novel theory on Judas and the high priests.

 
Yes, all sorts of people, including Gnostics and Germans have argued that Judas was not such a bad guy, that he was really doing Jesus and/or us a favor in carrying out the prophecy, or making it possible for Jesus to die on the cross (and thus redeem us) or whatever. But this new theory goes beyond that. As far as I know, no one ever in the history of the world has ever blamed the Jewish high priests for Judas’ suicide:

Pope Francis said: “It hurts when I read that small passage from the Gospel of Matthew, when Judas, who has repented, goes to the priests and says: ‘I have sinned’ and wants to give … and gives them the coins. ‘Who cares! – they say to him: it’s none of our business!’ They closed their hearts before this poor, repentant man, who did not know what to do. And he went and hanged himself. 

And what did they do when Judas hanged himself? They spoke amongst themselves and said: ‘Is he a poor man? No! These coins are the price of blood, they must not enter the temple… and they referred to this rule and to that… The doctors of the letter. “ 

The life of a person did not matter to them, the Pope observed, they did not care about Judas’ repentance. 

The Gospel, he continued, says that Judas came back repentant. But all that mattered to them “were the laws, so many words and things they had built”.

So Judas went to confess to the Jewish high priests. But they were bad confessors and rejected him since they (I guess) had no mercy.
 
It is tedious to observe that:
  1. The Jewish high priests (being Jewish high priests) had no power to forgive sins in that sense.
  2. Neither Judas nor the high priests believed they had such a power.
  3. In any case, while looking down at Judas for being sort of a rat, the priests obviously wouldn’t think that acting against Jesus was per se a sin.
  4. Judas’ repentance was belied by the fact of his subsequent suicide, as well as (according to most Biblical commentators) the peculiar Greek word used for “repentance” in this passage but not in other passages.
  5. The common understanding is that his repentance was more akin to “stupid move” than “I’m truly sorry that I betrayed my Master and friend.” (Again, see suicide and Greek word used.)
  6. This is reinforced by the fact that Judas did not try to save Jesus or go back to the other apostles and apologize, etc. Rather, he pulled a “poor me.”
So Francis believes in what some have called the “blood libel.”
 
But concerning Judas not Jesus.
 
Interestingly, in today’s homily, Bergoglio then went on to repeat a sort of anti-Catholic blood libel–that the Church has a long history of burning dissidents and so on:

“History tells us of many people who were judged and killed, although they were innocent: judged according to the Word of God, against the Word of God. Let’s think of witch hunts or of St. Joan of Arc, and of many others who were burnt to death, condemned because according to the judges they were not in line with the Word of God” he said.

This isn’t Catholic. It’s anti-Catholic.

Enough.


Who will be the first bishop to stand up to this?

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16 Responses to Sympathy for Judas

  • Chrysostom and Aquinas unlike Spaulding believed that Judas had real sorrow but then failed to hope in God’s goodness so that they saw it as half the work of the whole process of repentance. Spaulding thus misses what they saw…that God was helping Judas with actual grace near the very end despite God’s foreknowledge of the result but Judas cooperated partially with ” the sorrow that is from above” but he did not complete the process. Aquinas on despair (4th article) shows that sloth to consider God’s goodness is the root of incomplete cooperation with the grace of sorrow:
    ” Reply to Objection 3. This very neglect to consider the Divine favors arises from sloth. For when a man is influenced by a certain passion he considers chiefly the things which pertain to that passion: so that a man who is full of sorrow does not easily think of great and joyful things, but only of sad things, unless by a great effort he turn his thoughts away from sadness.”
    There you have Judas’ process near the end….sorrow should have been followed by a great effort of meditation on God’s goodness throughout Judas’ life. Thus Chrysostom called it a half repentance….which is not the due act of virtue.

  • p.s.
    Pope Francis’ two predecessors were not so traditional on Judas. On page 186 of ” Crossing the Threshold of Hope”, St. John Paul II wrote: ”
    “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.”
    Pope Benedict also stated in an audience ( Oct.18,2006) that we cannot be certain that Judas is in hell.
    We actually can be certain Judas is in hell not so that we feel superior to Judas but so that we take fear that we consider God’s goodness more than Judas did….and that we work at joy in God’s goodness by meditation or mental prayer.
    Christ speaks of Judas being lost, perished, destroyed in John 17:12 IN THE PAST TENSE and Christ said this prior to the completed betrayal and far prior to the suicide. St. Justin Martyr noted that in scripture, past tense prophecy is CERTAIN not conditional like Jonah saying Nineveh would be destroyed in 40 days ( 3 days in the Septuagint ) in future tense prophecy that was conditional on Nineveh not repenting. Christ on Judas spoke in past tense prophecy which is certain and which Isaiah used repeatedly about Christ’s passion which like Judas’ damnation was also certain: Isaiah 53: ” He was despised and rejected by others…” past tense prophecy. Isaiah 53:5 ” he was wounded for our transgressions”…past tense tense prophecy. Isaiah 53:8 ” by a perversion of justice, he was taken away”…
    past tense prophecy…certain to happen…unconditional. All said c. 700 years before Christ suffered.
    Now hear Christ speak in the past tense prophetic: ” Those whom thou gavest me I guarded and not one of them perished but the son of perdition”…said by Christ in past tense prophecy like Isaiah…prior to Judas’ completed betrayal and far prior to the suicide. Both Benedict and John Paul erred in this area…one in a book and one in an audience…neither being an important venue.

  • I actually agree with you Bill. But with respect, I think it is you who have missed the point. Yes, one might say that Judas had gone “half-way” towards real repentance. Indeed, we cannot know that he didn’t in the end, perhaps at virtually the moment of death, completely repent. But Francis appears to be claiming that he DID go all the way, or at least almost all the way, but what blocked him from being forgiven by God was the hard-heartedness of the Jewish high priests. I may be wrong, but I do not think anyone has ever made that claim.

    It’s perfectly “traditional” not to think that Judas was the most evil man who ever lived, but rather just a man who (for whatever reason) sank into sin and betrayal. In a sense Saint Peter was no different. But of course Peter graciously accepted God’s grace and came out of it. Judas rejected it (or at least so it appears).

    We can grieve for Judas as we can for all sinners. But the tragedy is not that his repentance was ignored by those who had no mercy, but rather that Judas appeared to refuse Christ’s mercy.

  • Judas and Repentance – MPS, please correct me if I err.
    .
    From Matthew 27:3-4:
    .
    Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
    .
    The Greek word used for repent is μεταμέλομαι: to care afterwards
    .
    This verb derives from μετά meaning with, after, behind or afterward and μέλει meaning to care about.
    .
    The word is used in the following passages – go to the chapters in question and read in context:
    .
    Matthew 21:9 – He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
    .
    Matthew 21:32 – For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.
    .
    2nd Corinthians 7:8 – For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.
    .
    Hebrews 7:21 – (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)
    .
    The other word used in the New Testament for repent is μετανοέω, meaning to change one’s mind, i.e. to repent or to change one’s mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins.
    .
    Example from Matthew 4:17:
    .
    From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
    .
    μετανοέω comes from the Greek words μετά meaning with, after, behind or afterward and νοέω meaning to understand, perceive, consider or think.
    .
    μετανοέω is used almost everywhere else for repent in the New Testament whereas μεταμέλομαι:is used five times. The two words mean two different things.
    .
    This little analysis with Strong’s dictionary and my Greek New Testament took me 20 minutes to read and type up. I am a nuclear engineer, not a theologian nor a Biblical scholar nor a linguist (though I do know a smattering of Koine Greek, enough to make me look foolish, and some Latin). If I a mere layman can figure out in short order from the Greek that Judas cared about his crime after the fact but did not have form purpose of amendment, then why not the Pope whose equal none of us are?
    .
    It is now time for me to go back to neutrons ‘R us. You can’t distort the truth with those little things without devastating physical consequences. And PS, it’s the same with distorting the record of Judas except the consequences are worse since they are spiritual and eternal.

  • Oakes,
    If you read me completely in the second post, I firmly believe (with Ausgustine and Chrysostom (sermons)) that Judas is in hell. Indeed so is Jezebel and later Herod of Acts 12 but there is a different reason in their case.

  • ps Oakes,
    Yes we agree that Francis’ inclination to blame the priests for Judas’ incompleted repentance is odd but he did the identical blame game in the Brussels terror attack….he blamed it on arms merchants even though they were homemade bombs and small arms as carried by the Swiss Guard. I suspect his father had imperfections that forever inclines him against hidden power figures being always at fault for the sins of the little guy.

  • I always took it as a given that Judas is in Hell. I hope I’m wrong for his sake.

    For some reason, I’m getting blocked from Spaulding’s article as “Adult Material”. And it looks like that article quotes from another article that excerpts the Pope’s comments, but I haven’t been able to find the entire text online. So it’s a minimum of three steps away, and translated, and the original statement was from someone who speaks imprecisely when extemporaneous. I’ll withhold judgment.

  • “Who will be the first bishop to stand up to this?”

    Apparently it won’t be Cardinal Burke:

    http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/amoris-laetitia-and-the-constant-teaching-and-practice-of-the-church/

  • At the Fulcrom of history clearly stand the two Types of men we can become, “Types” in the sense they most fully represent their clearest essence:

    The God-Man Jesus.

    The son of perdition Judas.

    Hope, Love, Mercy contained in the former.

    Despair, Hatred, Betrayal contained in the latter.

    If Judas desired mercy, he could not have received it from the Pharisees (as alleged by Pope Francis) even if they were willing (they were not even asked for it). BUT …. Judas COULD easily have received it in full at the foot of the Cross beneath the precious blood of Jesus. There was plenty of room for him there. Only Jesus could grant it, even at the end, and He was infinitely willing and desired to do so for His child. But Judas did not wish it. This is not the fault of Pharisees. It is the fault of Judas, in full.

    Where he went, we all will go if we choose his path. We must humble ourselves, submit ourselves as His creations, dependent upon Him and cling to the Cross along with Mary, Mary and John.

    The story of Judas is integral to our Faith; to the Via Dolorosa; to our personal judgement. At the precise center of history, this is not a mere cheap story about mean unmerciful Pharisees.

    Sinful Man represented by Judas, hung himself in despair without doing the hard work of humbling himself in repentance and need. Righteous New Man conquered death forever without ever being asked for the Mercy he so much wanted to grant.

  • Sorry for Judas. It seems as if he was a bad actor (stealing from the Apostolic purse) before he sold out his God and Redeemer. I guess it dawned on Judas that 30 pieces of silver (the price of a man) were far less valuable than the rewards of eternal life, which Jesus would purchase for him with His life, death, and Resurrection.
    .
    If I were sermonizing on sin, repentance, etc. I would cite better examples like St. Peter who several times got it wrong, but kept repenting, confessing, doing penance, amending one’s life; and, another good example would be St. Dismas who was the only one that gave comfort to Jesus, that shared His pangs, that showed true repentance, that acknowledged that his punishment was just and necessary for his salvation, and who Jesus told him he would with Jesus that day in Paradise.

  • !
    bill bannon said- “I suspect his father had imperfections that forever inclines him against hidden power figures being always at fault for the sins of the little guy.”
    That could be it.

  • re: Cardinal Burke and “standing up

    It seems to me that the hermeneutic of continuity, i.e. “the constant teaching and practice of the Church” is the only way we’re going stand up to and beat back the dissenters and innovators.

  • Francis’s musings on this completely annihilate the compare-and-contrast we are meant to make between Judas and Peter. Both betrayed Christ, but look at the difference in their subsequent actions. PETER TRUSTED THE MERCY OF GOD, and Judas didn’t. Judas gave in to despair, whereas Peter put all his hope in Jesus’s forgiveness.

    Ironic, isn’t it, that a pope who talks so much about mercy seems to be completely missing the lesson on mercy that we are supposed to learn when we look at Judas and Peter!!! (And doubly ironic, since the pope is the successor of Peter — you’d think he’d be a little more tuned-in to Peter!)

  • “And what did they do when Judas hanged himself? They spoke amongst themselves and said: ‘Is he a poor man? No! These coins are the price of blood, they must not enter the temple… and they referred to this rule and to that… The doctors of the letter

    Our good Pope – and I mean that quite sincerely – is too caught up on this matter. Yes, it IS important, and it is one of the core messages of the Gospel. But through repetition he is moving dangerously close to creating a letter of the law that condemns those who follow the letter of the law. Once we pass beyond the advisory on this matter we enter the realm of the illogical, and we never find God in the illogical.

  • Shouldn’t we simply disregard everything Pope Francis says? While there may be some truth in what he says from time to time it is not worthwhile to strain it out.

  • Heartlander, one set of meditations on a passage of Scripture don’t annihilate another. Valuable lessons can be extracted from a single passage. As for me, I always saw the good thief as the counterpart of Judas. If you asked me for Peter’s opposite in the Crucifixion story, I would have said John. None of this is to say that all interpretations of Scripture are equally valid, of course. It’s more like the way some homilies connect with you better than others,

Judas and Us

Thursday, April 2, AD 2015

 

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?

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9 Responses to Judas and Us

  • ” 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • In any case, Judas did not love Jesus.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

The Judas Tradition

Wednesday, March 26, AD 2014

The Judas Tradition

 

It is a long and dishonorable tradition in Christianity, I call it the Judas Tradition, to place at the helm of ostensibly Christian organizations people who end up eager to transform the organization into an adversary of Christianity.  Christopher Johnson, a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so frequently in defense of the Church that I have named him Defender of the Faith, gives us the latest example:

Another “Christian” ministry surrenders to the Zeitgeist:

World Vision’s American branch will no longer require its more than 1,100 employees to restrict their sexual activity to marriage between one man and one woman.

Abstinence outside of marriage remains a rule. But a policy change announced Monday [March 24] will now permit gay Christians in legal same-sex marriages to be employed at one of America’s largest Christian charities.

Stearns asserts that the “very narrow policy change” should be viewed by others as “symbolic not of compromise but of [Christian] unity.” He even hopes it will inspire unity elsewhere among Christians.

Oh, sweet mother of…

“Changing the employee conduct policy to allow someone in a same-sex marriage who is a professed believer in Jesus Christ to work for us makes our policy more consistent with our practice on other divisive issues,” he said. “It also allows us to treat all of our employees the same way: abstinence outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage.”

Face?  Palm?  You know the drill.

“It’s easy to read a lot more into this decision than is really there,” he said. “This is not an endorsement of same-sex marriage. We have decided we are not going to get into that debate. Nor is this a rejection of traditional marriage, which we affirm and support.”

“We’re not caving to some kind of pressure. We’re not on some slippery slope. There is no lawsuit threatening us. There is no employee group lobbying us,” said Stearns. “This is not us compromising. It is us deferring to the authority of churches and denominations on theological issues. We’re an operational arm of the global church, we’re not a theological arm of the church.”

Give me a break, Stearnsie.  Quick question.  If you weren’t under some kind of pressure, if some group or other wasn’t threatening to sue you, then WHY MAKE THE POLICY CHANGE AT ALL?!!

While we’re on the subject of slippery slopes there, Stearnsie, what are you going to tell a potential employee who wants a job with World Vision but tells you that he’s a devout Christian who’s living with and currently banging three women on a regular basis?  After all, “the global church” hasn’t definitively weighed on that topic yet, has it?

Prominent Christian thinkers aren’t buying what you’re selling, Stearnsie.  Russell Moore:

At stake is the gospel of Jesus Christ. If sexual activity outside of a biblical definition of marriage is morally neutral, then, yes, we should avoid making an issue of it. If, though, what the Bible clearly teaches and what the church has held for 2000 years is true, then refusing to call for repentance is unspeakably cruel and, in fact, devilish.

John Piper:

This is a tragic development for the cause of Christ, because it trivializes perdition — and therefore, the cross — and because it sets a trajectory for the demise of true compassion for the poor.

When J.I. Packer walked out of the 2002 synod of the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster, he was protesting its decision to “bless same-sex unions.” His rationale is relevant for the developments at World Vision.

First, his words about unity expose the crass alignment of homosexual intercourse and baptism as comparable markers for biblical faithfulness. Packer wrote, “It is most misleading, indeed crass, to call this disagreement simply a difference about interpretation, of the kind for which Anglican comprehensiveness has always sought to make room.”

When World Vision says, “We cannot jump into the fight on one side or another on this issue,” here is the side they do, in fact, jump onto: We forbid fornication and adultery as acceptable lifestyles among our employees (which they do), but we will not forbid the regular practice of homosexual intercourse. To presume that this position is not “jumping into the fight on one side or the other” is fanciful.

But worse than fancy, removing homosexual intercourse from its biblical alignment with fornication and adultery (and greed and theft and drunkenness) trivializes its correlation with perdition.

Mark Marshall:

The explanation given by World Vision President Richard Stearns is fatuous.  He claims World Vision is remaining neutral on the issue of same-sex “marriage”.  No, World Vision’s policy for employees was celibacy for singles and monogamy for the married.  By deciding that gay sex inside of same-sex “marriage” meets that requirement for employees, World Vision is most definitely taking sides.

This is a cover for partnership with apostate denominations and letting them call the shots.  The United Church of Christ holds to the faith of the creeds?  Really?  As long as libchurchers can cross their fingers and mouth a creed, Stearns is just fine with partnering with them and letting them set, nay, abolish Christian moral standards for employees.  And that in the name of a unity which really destroys genuine Christian unity.

Franklin Graham:

I was shocked today to hear of World Vision’s decision to hire employees in same-sex marriages. The Bible is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman. My dear friend, Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse, would be heartbroken. He was an evangelist who believed in the inspired Word of God. World Vision maintains that their decision is based on unifying the church – which I find offensive – as if supporting sin and sinful behavior can unite the church. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, the Scriptures consistently teach that marriage is between a man and woman and any other marriage relationship is sin.

Check the stats, World Vision; Episcopalianization is not the wave of the future.  So I have no idea who you think that this move is going to impress.

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10 Responses to The Judas Tradition

  • I suspect over time these organizations draw their staff from the same pool as the county welfare department. Social work is a pseudo-profession that would not exist bar for state licensing boards and welfare department hiring practices. Little doubt there are analogues to this Stearns fool all up and down the apparat of every philanthropy you would care to name.

  • “someone in a same-sex marriage who is a professed believer in Jesus Christ ”
    .
    The devil is a believer in Jesus Christ. Doing the will of God in heaven as Jesus did on earth is called Catholicism and Christianity.

  • False charity is running amuck in “(c)atholic circles as well as secular ones.
    I suppose it’s always been that way. Since Judas’ fall to Obamacare. The idea that the ends justify the means is alive and well.

    Prayers…endless prayers for our neighbors, especially our enemies.

  • 2 Timothy 4:3-4

    For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.

    Luke 18:7-8

    And will not God vindicate his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will vindicate them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?

  • Wait, so the guy is ignoring that people DO help the orphans, and complains that they ALSO try to prevent the situations that caused them to be orphaned? *headdesk*

    Nevermind the mangling of scripture.

  • They say they made a mistake and I am glad they recognize that… but they also need to recognize the sinfulness of the public pro gay lifestyle position they were taking. All sins are mistakes, not all mistakes are sins. This was a sin. Thank God they can repent and turn around. They have asked forgiveness of their supporters and hopefully the forgiveness of the Lord.

  • “Humbly ask for forgiveness” nonsense “humbly hope to keep a fat paycheck” would be more honest.these folks should be fired.

  • Christianity Today has a good write-up of the reversal, including more reaction from Evangelicals. Also it includes clarification that the initial policy was made by the U.S. branch only, and not the international affiliates (which may have been obvious to some from the context, but I had wondered).
    .
    http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/march-web-only/world-vision-reverses-decision-gay-same-sex-marriage.html?paging=off
    .
    Thought this was a good statement by World Vision U.S., but unlikely to shield them from charges of bigotry: “We strongly affirm that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are created by God and are to be loved and treated with dignity and respect.”
    .
    On twitter and various blogs Unitarians and liberal Christians were quick to support the policy shift, but I’ve stayed away from their reaction on the reversal. (Just don’t have it in me today.)

  • The quoted statement is entirely consistent with Catholic teaching, and that has not shielded the Church charges of bigotry, which charges are usually animated by actual bigotry.

  • Ah, they acted just the way Jesus did when he modified his teachings at the peoples’ request….

Luke Live, Days Three and Four

Friday, February 20, AD 2009

I continue once again with my shameless promotion of Paulist Father James DiLuzio and his Luke Live performace, part 3, covering Luke chapters 17-24.

Over the last two days, the conversation we had (Father DiLuzio continually encouraged us to have a dialogue on the text, to reach deeper meanings) focused on two fairly notorious characters: Judas Iscariot, and Pontius Pilate.  Now, in general terms, these two have been condemned since the inception of the Church.  Judas, the betrayer, has classically been believed to be in Hell, and every week we recite in our creed:  He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.

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35 Responses to Luke Live, Days Three and Four

  • I won’t go Balthasarian here (though I am tempted to do so). Rather, I would point out, contrary to your claim, Pilate has not been routinely condemned to hell; indeed, some apostolic churches have declared him to be a saint!

  • Henry,

    I’m confused. I nowhere said that we condemn Pilate as being in Hell. I said that often we have condemned Judas, but I stated specifically that there’s a case against that. So, are you confused in what I said, or did you mean Judas instead of Pilate? If you still mean Pilate, I would invite you to review my post, for nowhere in it have I made any mention of Pilate’s eternal destination.

  • “Now, in general terms, these two have been condemned since the inception of the Church.” The word condemned, especially in connection with the next sentence which talks about Judas in hell, suggests the condemnation is of the eternal kind. Perhaps I misread it because of the placement of the sentences.

  • Okay, I’ll bite: What apostolic church(s) have declared Pilate a saint, and why?

    Given my Dante=Tradition on Hell assumptions, I would certainly have felt comfortable saying that Pilate was generally imagined as condemned.

  • Pilate is considered a saint by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. His wife Procula is considered a saint by both the Ethiopian Othodox Church and the Greek Orthodox Church. Beats me why they did this. Other than very dubious legends, all we know about Pilate and his wife is contained in the New Testament, two tiny references in Tacitus and Suentonius, and the Pilate inscription.

    http://www.bible-history.com/empires/pilate.html

  • Interesting.

    Well, I guess one can expect the Oriental Orthodox churches to be a bit odd, having been off on their own for the last 1550 years.

  • The Church teaches that it knows not specifically of the existence of any particular human soull in hell, including even Judas.

  • What’s the fuss about? Ryan simply states what’s obvious, Judas and Pilate are nefarious characters, and generally Catholics suspect that they may not have made it to purgatory. I don’t think that’s a sin of presumption or against hope, certainly we hold out hope for all, but we know, contrary to Balthasazar… Hell is not empty.

  • I think the notion of “Hell being empty” usually is in reference to the Christian hope that no human beings are in Hell rather than there is no sort of being there at all. The former is perfectly orthodox theological speculation and a beautiful hope and trust in God’s mercy and love. The latter is heretical and also intellectual confusing, given the explicit dogmas regarding Satan and the fallen angels being in Hell.

  • Eric Brown ,
    I think the notion of “Hell being empty” usually is in reference to the Christian hope that no human beings are in Hell rather than there is no sort of being there at all. The former is perfectly orthodox theological speculation and a beautiful hope and trust in God’s mercy and love. The latter is heretical and also intellectual confusing, given the explicit dogmas regarding Satan and the fallen angels being in Hell.

    Hell is not empty of human beings. I’m not prepared to call it heresy, but…

    Luke 13:24
    Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and shall not be able.

    If no humans are in hell then getting to heaven is not hard, and that is contrary to the teachings of the Church. There is no such thing as hope that no human beings are in hell, only hope that no particular human being is in hell.

  • Matt,

    Based on the power of the glorious love revealed fully on the Cross, I am dared to hope all the time that no human beings will be in hell…..

  • Henry,

    I think we’ve stumbled across the problem.

    “Now, in general terms, these two have been condemned since the inception of the Church.” The word condemned, especially in connection with the next sentence which talks about Judas in hell, suggests the condemnation is of the eternal kind. Perhaps I misread it because of the placement of the sentences.

    It is sloppiness on my part that led to the confusion. Yes, condemn can and often does mean something along the lines of “declared damned to Hell”, but that wasn’t exactly how I was trying to use. I just meant that they are notorious characters, definitely portrayed as the “bad guys” in the gospels. It was not meant to be a statement of their eternal destination, especially as I followed up by specifically stating that Judas has traditionally been believed to be in Hell, while Pilate’s ultimate decision to sentence Jesus to death was so remarkable that we include him by name in our creeds.

    I’ll try to use more precise language in the future, to avoid such confusion.

  • Mark D.,

    Based on the power of the glorious love revealed fully on the Cross, I am dared to hope all the time that no human beings will be in hell…

    The Scriptures notwithstanding? God loves us so much He would not lie nor remove our free will, which is your proposal.

  • To hope that all men be saved deoes not entail a denial of free will. It is a hope that the glory of God’s love is attractive/persuasive enough to ultimately win the free consent of all human beings for their salvation.

  • Mark D.

    Luke 13:24
    Strive to enter by the narrow gate; for many, I say to you, shall seek to enter, and shall not be able.

    If no humans are in hell then getting to heaven is not hard, and that is contrary to the teachings of the Church. There is no such thing as hope that no human beings are in hell, only hope that no particular human being is in hell.

    Never mind that naughty scripture.

    ultimately win the free consent of all human beings

    If a man dies in a state of mortal sin, he is judged immediately, that is dogmatic. There’s no “ultimately” about it.

    1022 Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven-through a purification or immediately,–or immediate and everlasting damnation.

    Matthew 25:32-33
    And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left

    What you’re saying is that the goats are possibly hypothetical??

    If a man believes it’s possible that nobody is in hell, then why would he bother to lead a just life? The pains of hell have always been part of the negative motivation of religion, if the worst offenders in history are all in the bosom of Christ, then why worry about a few relatively minor mortal sins? Why go to confession at all? This theology is not only erroneous, it is incredibly dangerous to the salvation of souls.

    How ’bout this one:
    “The floor of Hell is paved with the skulls of rotten bishops.” St. John Chrysostom

  • Matt,

    Mark is just proposing a hope, not a dogmatic declaration. Our Church implicitly keeps to that hope, both recalling that we are not to judge whether or not anyone was “bad enough” to go to Hell, and in not dogmatically declaring anyone an anti-saint as she declares some few definitely saints.

    Now, you can argue whether or not Mark’s hope has much of a chance of being fulfilled, but you’ll only be talking “maybe’s” and “it seems” and “Scripture suggests”. There’s nothing definite (other than that Satan and his fallen angels are in Hell) to work. While I’ll agree with you that it seems fairly compelling to believe that some men did indeed choose so firmly against God they could only go to Hell, it is still an awful thing to contemplate. Have you truly sat down and considered just what eternal torment means? Eternal pain, with no hope of change, and no chance to escape from it? Personally, the very thought terrifies me, and it leads me to pray that no one actually endures such a thing.

    I see two dangers, though, one in holding to the hope that ultimately everyone accepts God’s redeeming love, and one in holding that some, or even many, will reject it. The hope has the danger of complacency–I don’t have to do anything to help my neighbor find faith. The other carries the danger of self-righteousness and contempt. I think the best course is to walk the narrow path between, hoping that all will accept redemption, but knowing full well that people can very easily reject it.

  • Matt,

    And one more edit, since we apparently wrote our most recent replies simultaneously:

    Mathematically, in order to demonstrate a set is not empty, one must prove the existence of an element in that set. We cannot definitively prove that any one person is in Hell, nor can we prove definitively that some generic person is in Hell, and thus we cannot definitively prove that the set of all humans who have gone to Hell is non-empty. Thus the hope itself is not necessarily problematic.

    And as compelling as your last argument is (trust me, I’m sold), that doesn’t count Jesus’ tendency to speak in hyperbole. I think Mark’s defense rests on that, though I should probably let him speak for himself.

  • Ryan,

    Our Church implicitly keeps to that hope, both recalling that we are not to judge whether or not anyone was “bad enough” to go to Hell, and in not dogmatically declaring anyone an anti-saint as she declares some few definitely saints.

    This is a “Non sequitur”. That she hopes each individual is not in hell is not the same as hoping that nobody is in hell. Neither does not hoping that nobody is in hell mean that we hope somebody is in hell, it only means we accept the teaching of the Scripture and Tradition that there are souls in hell, the “goats”. While we may not limit the power of God, we should not hope the impossible, and the one thing that is impossible is for God to contradict Himself.

    some men did indeed choose so firmly against God they could only go to Hell

    Where did you get the impression from scripture that it is so hard to get to hell? All of the Church’s teaching from Scripture and Tradition is that Heaven is difficult to get to and hell is easy. Narrow is the road, camel’s and eyes of needles… etc. etc.

    it is still an awful thing to contemplate. Have you truly sat down and considered just what eternal torment means? Eternal pain, with no hope of change, and no chance to escape from it? Personally, the very thought terrifies me, and it leads me to pray that no one actually endures such a thing.

    It leads me also to warn of the dangers of hell. If I even imply that nobody might be there, do I not weaken the argument for conversion?

    holding that some, or even many, will reject it…carries the danger of self-righteousness and contempt.

    You impute these vices to many saints, popes and doctors of the Church, who all believed that there were souls in Hell and it is easy to get there. The road is narrow… the road is narrow… the road is narrow.

    This argument reminds me of the liberal/progressive precept that “judgmentalism” is the only mortal sin.

  • Mathematically, in order to demonstrate a set is not empty, one must prove the existence of an element in that set. We cannot definitively prove that any one person is in Hell, nor can we prove definitively that some generic person is in Hell, and thus we cannot definitively prove that the set of all humans who have gone to Hell is non-empty. Thus the hope itself is not necessarily problematic.

    This is not a mathematical question. Christ says there are goats, goats there must be.

    And as compelling as your last argument is (trust me, I’m sold), that doesn’t count Jesus’ tendency to speak in hyperbole. I think Mark’s defense rests on that, though I should probably let him speak for himself.

    I’m not familiar with his tendency to “hyperbole”, I always took His Word to be Gospel. Even if Christ exaggerates, he can not exaggerate 0 into a number other than 0.

  • Matt,

    I know myself well enough. And if I am to have hope for my salvation, I MUST therefore hold out hope for the salvation of all.

  • ps.

    Even if Christ exaggerates, he can not exaggerate 0 into a number other than 0.

    because if one exaggerates 0 into a number, it’s not an exaggeration it’s an outright lie, Christ is Truth, he does not contradict Himself.

    Mark,

    I really don’t think you’re that bad.

  • Matt,

    The point is that by ourselves all of us radically miss the mark.

    All that is good in our world is grace.

  • Mark D.,

    The point is that by ourselves all of us radically miss the mark.

    All that is good in our world is grace.

    That is, of course true. That is not the point.

  • Matt,

    It is hardly a non-sequitor. I’m merely trying to offer justification for Mark’s hope. Those two statements (as well as my mathematical analysis), are geared to that effect.

    On a slightly different note, it is an odd thing to argue about, whether or not hope that everyone is ultimately (and by ultimately, I just mean to include all future generations who have not yet even been born) saved is a licit hope. With the proper understanding, I don’t see how the hope is not licit. (With an improper understanding, the hope would be a symptom of heretical beliefs, so I understand your concern there.)

    Here’s a hypothetical for you. If, up to this point in history, everyone who had died repented or was guilty only of invincible ignorance, and thus when to Heaven, would that negate any of Jesus’ teachings? Would it contradict even a majority of people going to Hell, supposing Jesus taught that? I would argue that, as highly unlikely as that is, it doesn’t contradict anything, on the case that maybe those who end up in Hell simply haven’t been born yet.

    Where did you get the impression from scripture that it is so hard to get to hell? All of the Church’s teaching from Scripture and Tradition is that Heaven is difficult to get to and hell is easy. Narrow is the road, camel’s and eyes of needles… etc. etc.

    I don’t have that impression at all. Unfortunately, html doesn’t seem to support hyperbole, exaggeration, irony, or sarcasm tags. On the other hand, neither does the Bible. We know that the camel and eye of the needle comment is hyperbole, for I do believe that we have some rich saints. We also know that the “call no man father” is a hyperbolic statement, especially since we have to keep reminding our Protestant brethren of that.

    You impute these vices to many saints, popes and doctors of the Church, who all believed that there were souls in Hell and it is easy to get there. The road is narrow… the road is narrow… the road is narrow.

    And you impute to me intention I never included in my statement. Be careful in your desire to wax eloquent, because you might miss some meaning here. To impute these vices to saints, et al, as you have suggested I did, I would have had to have said something along the lines of “anyone will become contemptuous”, and not suggested it was a danger but a certainty. Obviously the saints, even if they struggled with such self-righteous contempt, managed to overcome it.

    Let me clarify my meaning, though. What I’m talking about is that when we become fixated that “oh yes, people are definitely going to Hell, Jesus said so,” then we have a tendency start marking lines in this life. (Think Rev. Phelps and his anti-homosexual crusade.) That’s the danger I’m talking about–turning the belief that people go to Hell into a crusade to identify who those people are, while they still live. This in itself is sinful, for it is a rejection of God’s grace and mercy, and it leaves us bitter like Jonah. Oh those sinful people of Ninevah! God’s going to destroy them they’re so wicked. Wait, they repented? And God forgave them? What utter…!

    If you think I’m going overboard on that concern, then let me just confess that I find myself overstepping that boundary a time or three each week.

    This argument reminds me of the liberal/progressive precept that “judgmentalism” is the only mortal sin.

    On the other hand, judging that a person is definitely damned to Hell is still sinful, even if it is not the only sin.

    I’m not familiar with his tendency to “hyperbole”, I always took His Word to be Gospel. Even if Christ exaggerates, he can not exaggerate 0 into a number other than 0.

    There’s a lot to be said about the hyperbole Jesus uses, especially since as a teaching method it was in vogue at the time. I mentioned a couple of examples above, and there are plenty of others. Check into it. It is good for exegesis.

    On the other hand, I don’t really have an argument about how you exaggerate nothing into something. At least, I don’t have a good one.

    And it’s hard to keep this argument up, since I don’t think everyone has made it to Heaven, nor will everyone from here on out do so.

  • I know myself well enough. And if I am to have hope for my salvation, I MUST therefore hold out hope for the salvation of all.

    For what it’s worth, Mark, I think many of us with a more traditional approach to the question of whether there’s anyone in hell are motivated by self knowledge as well.

    If I find it so difficult to conform my will to God’s and feel in no sense assured of my own salvation, how likely is it that no one ever in the history of the universe was so wrapped in pride as to look at God and turn away. If it was done one of the greatest of the angels, and if my own pride seems so great an obstacle to doing right, what is the likelihood that pride has never led any human soul to follow Lucifer away from God?

  • Ryan,

    Acknowledging that you are not necessarily opposing the belief that there are souls in hell, but only arguing that the converse is an acceptable conclusion, it is still an interesting argument, so I will respond.

    It is hardly a non-sequitor. I’m merely trying to offer justification for Mark’s hope. Those two statements (as well as my mathematical analysis), are geared to that effect.

    That the Church holds hope for each human being does not logically lead to the conclusion that it hopes for ALL to be saved. This reminds me of a strong argument against the concept of universal salvation…

    Simili modo, postquam cenatum est, accipiens et hunc praeclarum calicem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas, item tibi gratias agens benedixit, deditque discipulis suis, dicens: Accipite et bibite ex eo omnes: hic est enim calix Sanguinis mei novi et aeterni testamenti, [mysterium fidei] qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum. Hoc facite in meam commemorationem.

    http://wdtprs.com/blog/category/wdtprs/pro-multis/

    Why do we use the words “pro multis” – for many? The Holy Father explains:

    1) Jesus died to save all and to deny that is not in any way a Christian attitude, 2) God lovingly leaves people free to reject salvation and some do

    Here’s a hypothetical for you. If, up to this point in history, everyone who had died repented or was guilty only of invincible ignorance, and thus when to Heaven, would that negate any of Jesus’ teachings? Would it contradict even a majority of people going to Hell, supposing Jesus taught that? I would argue that, as highly unlikely as that is, it doesn’t contradict anything, on the case that maybe those who end up in Hell simply haven’t been born yet.

    I’m not sure it helps to slice and dice the timeline of history, it’s certainly not a reasonable argument to say that the most prideful have not yet been born given recent history, also many of the traditional citations on the matter suggest that in the present time thre was in fact souls in hell already. I suspect that the only reasonable conclusion is that every time sees many souls lost to the devil.

    I don’t have that impression at all. Unfortunately, html doesn’t seem to support hyperbole, exaggeration, irony, or sarcasm tags. On the other hand, neither does the Bible. We know that the camel and eye of the needle comment is hyperbole, for I do believe that we have some rich saints.

    And so what is the intent of the hyperbole? It is clearly to emphasize…. HOW HARD IT IS IN FACT.

    And you impute to me intention I never included in my statement. Be careful in your desire to wax eloquent, because you might miss some meaning here. To impute these vices to saints, et al, as you have suggested I did, I would have had to have said something along the lines of “anyone will become contemptuous”, and not suggested it was a danger but a certainty. Obviously the saints, even if they struggled with such self-righteous contempt, managed to overcome it.

    Fine then I concede this. But the possbility of inspiring some vice does not preclude the truth of a matter, it is of no evidentiary value.

    “oh yes, people are definitely going to Hell, Jesus said so,” then we have a tendency start marking lines in this life. (Think Rev. Phelps and his anti-homosexual crusade.) That’s the danger I’m talking about–turning the belief that people go to Hell into a crusade to identify who those people are, while they still live. This in itself is sinful, for it is a rejection of God’s grace and mercy, and it leaves us bitter like Jonah. Oh those sinful people of Ninevah! God’s going to destroy them they’re so wicked. Wait, they repented? And God forgave them? What utter…!

    Indeed, the road is narrow, fear of going into the ditch on one side is no argument in favor of going into the ditch.

    This argument reminds me of the liberal/progressive precept that “judgmentalism” is the only mortal sin.

    On the other hand, judging that a person is definitely damned to Hell is still sinful, even if it is not the only sin.

    Certainly, and yet it bears not on this discussion because we are not talking about any particular person.

    I’m not familiar with his tendency to “hyperbole”, I always took His Word to be Gospel. Even if Christ exaggerates, he can not exaggerate 0 into a number other than 0.

    There’s a lot to be said about the hyperbole Jesus uses, especially since as a teaching method it was in vogue at the time. I mentioned a couple of examples above, and there are plenty of others. Check into it. It is good for exegesis.

    I guess I just never heard the use of “hyperbole” to describe His use of metaphor, I guess technically it is not incorrect.

  • “All that is good in our world is grace.”

    “That is, of course true. That is not the point.”

    It is the precisely point. Who am I to limit the efficacy of grace, to the extent that I dubiously assert it is guaranteed that grace is/was/will be unable to work itself successfully on one (or more) human soul, in terms of eternal life.

    The possibility is of course there.

    But given the Paschal Mystery, my faith tells me I have groungs TO HOPE otherwise.

  • Mark,

    are you interested at all in any opinion but your own and Balthazar? Are yous suggesting that the Holy Father is limiting the efficacy of grace? St. John Chrysostom?

    Do you not have time to consider the Scriptural and Traditional evidence against your premise?

  • The Holy Father is actually in agreement with von Balthasar.

    ………………..

    On Holy Saturday, Jesus took human God-forsaken-ness into the very Communio of God,

    He has ways, I believe, of transforming even the most obdurate simnner, respecting the latter’s free will.

  • Mark,

    The Holy Father is actually in agreement with von Balthasar.

    ………………..

    On Holy Saturday, Jesus took human God-forsaken-ness into the very Communio of God,

    He has ways, I believe, of transforming even the most obdurate simnner, respecting the latter’s free will.

    You’re not seriously suggesting that this means the Holy Father believes that hell could be empty? For His grace to have effect, the sinner MUST consent… no consent… no salvation. His statement quoted above completely contradicts your interpretation of this comment.

  • Mark,

    Matt is caught up to his own particular interpretation of Scripture, without having done any sound study on the matter itself. His characterization of Balthasar points to this fact — calling Balthasar a universalist when he is not, or suggesting — as ridiculous as it is — that Balthasar somehow has no notion of free will, and that is his problem? It would do well for Matt to learn some German and to read one of Balthasar’s last essays which is a criticism of universalism — Balthasar agrees that universalism, that the foreknowledge that all will be saved, is indeed contra-free will, but that has nothing to do with the hope that all might be saved, because of course the pull of God, the pull of love, allows for the conversion of the heart. Matt, by saying this, shows who it is that ultimately rejects free will.

  • Henry,

    you are caught up in an inability to respond substantially to valid points, instead, you resort to ad hominem. It’s very sad for such an obviously intelligent person to do this. Just try, I’m sure you can get over it.

    I did not call Balthasar a universalist at all, nor did any of my statements in any way impede the dogma on free will, which you and Mark seem to be skating dangerously close to.

    I in no way deny that the pull of love allows conversion of the heart. Where in the world would you get that ridiculous notion? God loves us so much that he comes to us and seeks to draw us to his bosom, but he loves us so much he would not impede our free will to reject Him. This is absolutely fundamental Catholic teaching.

    This is all typical of the liberal/progressive approach to argument. They present no counterpoint, only appeals to emotions, appeals to ad hominem, calling on people to read books in foreign languages… anything to avoid revealing the logical errors in their position.

  • Matt

    The problem is you do not know the position of the other, and you falsely describe it. That is the problem. That the depth of Balthasar’s idea, or the idea of the hope that all might be saved, goes beyond the simplistic presentation you give should suggest why you might want to read the texts in context, and see how those authors, like Balthasar, deal with your so-called objections. I do not plan to waste more time responding to you than that, because it is quite clear, you come into the discussion without sufficient ability to engage it.

  • Ok, one last word. For there to be an ad hominem, I would have had to engage you in a debate, and to make an assertion about some non-related quality about you to show that you are wrong. However, since it was not a debate with you, but a discussion with Mark, that is not the case; moreover pointing out your ignorance of the matter, and lack of knowledge of what Balthasar (and others like him) say on the matter, as confirmed with your discussion on free will, indicates it is not an ad hominem, but a significant fact which explains the situation. If one wants to contend against Balthasar, free will is not the area to do it. But one who has not read Balthasar would not know that.

  • Henry K,

    that’s what I thought.