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.

Saint Peter and the Last Supper

Thursday, March 28, AD 2013



I have always been fascinated by the figure of Saint Peter, our first Pope.  He was such an unlikely choice!  God could have chosen a priest, a very wise teacher, a prophet, a ruler, even, Heaven help us, a lawyer.   Someone who, to most superficial human eyes, would have been vastly more suited to be the first head of His Church on Earth. Instead he chose a humble fisherman.  Why?  Any number of reasons, I suppose, many of them still known only to God.  Perhaps one of the major factors was the love that Peter bore for Christ.  We see this after their first meeting when Peter urges Christ to go from him because Peter is a sinful man.  I think that at that point Peter desperately wanted to follow Christ, but he thought he was unworthy to because of his sins.  He was willing to have Christ depart from him in order to protect Christ from Peter’s sinful nature.

Peter is heartbroken when Christ reveals that he must die on the Cross.  Peter tells Christ that this must not happen, only to be rebuked by Christ for acting as a Satan attempting to tempt His human weakness.  This was said shortly after Christ, no doubt to Peter’s immense shock, advised him that He was going to build His Church on him, and committed to him the keys of the kingdom of Heaven.  How strange it must have all seemed to the Fisherman from Galilee!  However, his love for Christ kept him at the side of Jesus.

At the Last Supper when Christ reveals the Eucharist, He has this dialogue with Peter:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”

And he (Peter) said unto him, “Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.”

And he (Jesus) said, “I tell thee Peter, the cock show not crow on this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.”

After seeing the great miracle of the Last Supper, Peter did precisely that, deserting Christ in His hour of need, denying him three times. 

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8 Responses to Saint Peter and the Last Supper

  • Beautifully done.
    Wait a second…..Jesus could of chosen a Lawyer?
    Well ummm, a public defender??…yes Yes a public defender!
    Just kidding…I realize your profession is an easy target. Many great Bannisters make good public officials…atleast thats what I’ve heard.
    All kidding aside. Thank you for this post.

  • St. Peter, pray for us.

    And, When Our Lord was led out from before the council, we looked at Peter and their eyes met. And, Peter wept bitterly and fled.

    However, Peter repented and sought forgiveness and came forward (Christ’s prayer for Peter had been answered) to lead his brothers and he founded the Church in Rome.

    When it came to his time to bear the fatal witness to the Gospel, Peter required that he be crucified head down so as not to die as Our Lord had died to redeem the World.

    We adore you, O Christ, and we bess you. Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the World.

  • Though, in his first Volume of Jesus of Nazareth, Benedict does propose that the Father of Simon and Andrew may have been one of the priests who performed duties in the temple on a rotating basis and that he kept his fishing business nearby to help make ends meet.

    If this is true, then it does point to a certain basic familiarity with the Temple that Simon/Peter would have had, rather than being merely some “ignorant fisherman”.

  • Whoops… I was mistaken. It was Zebedee the father of James and John that was referred to above as a possible priest with Temple duties, not Simon and Andrew’s father. (Jonah?)

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  • Yes, Chris. John tells us in his Gospel that he was known to the high priest. Strange, though, Zebedee is not called Saint. If I add a point to this excellent post: When Jesus speaks to Peter at the Passover meal, He first uses the plural “You,” then He switches to the singular. “Satan has desired to sift you (plural), but I have prayed for thee (singular). Such it is in the inspired Greek.

  • It is simply astounding to imagine Peter in Rome!

    He probably had a good head for business and figures since he had his own boat and men working for him but I doubt he spoke more than his local dialect or read more than essential Hebrew.

    That he and Paul spread the Gospel so widely is one of God’s most amazing and least celibrated miracles! It gives me great hope too for so many good people are lost and desperate. The West so very much needs us; now more than ever.

    I really heard the Good Friday readings for the first time today. I’ve gone through the Tridium motions for years but I heard the Gospel loudly today. How did I miss the passages from Isaiah foretelling Christ?! I’m a 42 year old, cradle Catholic and I never put it together… Even though the Church put it together for me. 700 years before Christ he told the world exactly what was going to happen. And, you know what, I now believe… Not in the amorphous, non-specific sense that I have but in the sense that my mind can conceive of no explanation for the accuracy of Isaiah’s prophesy that that Jesus is the Christ!

    It is a very good day and I am filled with hope and joy and am excited by my discovery and overwhelmed by my foolishness.

    Jesus lives!

  • I think of the devil in the role of accuser, his place in the story of Job and how it parallels his part with Peter. Interesting.

Christianity and the Miraculous

Monday, March 29, AD 2010

Today, Palm Sunday, and throughout the rest of Holy Week, we devote ourselves to the central mysteries of our faith as Christians: Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The Last Supper, which instituted for us the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. The suffering and death of Christ on the cross. His resurrection on the third day.

These miracles are the very center of our faith. As Saint Paul said, if Christ did not rise from the dead, then our faith is in vain. Or to paraphrase Flannery O’Connor’s use of rather more modern parlance, “If it isn’t true, to hell with it.”

This central miracle, Christ’s death and resurrection, is the miracle which gives our faith meaning and sets it radically apart from the “he was a good man killed by the authorities for standing up for the poor” substitute which some propose. For if Christ was not God, if He did not rise from the dead, if He did not offer to us eternal salvation, then “he was a good man” is no half-way-there substitute. The resurrection is a miracle so unlikely, so scandalous that we must either embrace it wholly or reject Christianity with scorn. The events of Holy Week are not something we can accept half-way, and by accepting them we accept something which goes utterly and completely beyond the natural and predictable world. A miracle.

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5 Responses to Christianity and the Miraculous

  • A very provocative post Darwin.

    So in the spirit of constructive engagement you say you loathe anything as approaching the miraculous as well as biblical literalism.

    Many Catholics, including Father Benedict Groeschel as well as myself don’t believe in coincidences, but in God’s hand in all things.

    How do you explain that Jesus fed thousands with a few loaves with your eisegesis?

    I’ll admit if I misread your posting.

  • I think you may have misread me a bit, Tito. My argument was that while in everyday life I tend not to assume a miraculous explanation for something which could just as well be chance or coincidence (for instance, happening to find a missing set of keys moments after pausing to pray to St. Anthony) I think it’s entirely inappropriate to treat the miracles in the Gospels this way.

    Finding a set of keys is something which happens all the time without the need for miraculous help. Feeding 10,000 people, on the other hand, is not something that “just happens”. Nor is the incarnation of Christ something that “just happens”. Indeed, if we accept that Christ was God, and we accept the Gospels as what they claim to be (an account of Christ’s work on Earth) we have already accepted that the Gospels are about the most incredibly miraculous events possible.

    What I am questioning here is: Why is it that some people accept Christ’s divinity and resurrection, yet then turn around and toss out half the gospels with “oh, well, the feeding of the 10,000 probably wasn’t a real miracle, it’s just a fable for sharing” or “Lazarus probably wasn’t really dead, he was just unconscious” or “Jesus didn’t really walk on water, that’s just mythological language”. This miracles are small potatoes if we accept Christ, and if we accept Christ it seems entirely reasonable to believe the incredible and miraculous things would happen around Him.

    I don’t understand the urge to accept Christ, but then reject (seemingly at random) some of His miracles — as if it is rational to accept Christ but irrational to accept that he really rose from the dead or that he really fed large crowds or walked on water.

  • Thanks Darwin.

    Don’t use me as a barometer to how well your columns are written. I’m better at history than theology comprehension.

  • Well, and given that I wrote it between 11pm and 1am… There’s probably blame to share.

  • Biblical context works best for me. The Gospels are set up as books of testimony, so already I have to go in thinking: this happened, or at least that something major occurred.

    Secondy, there are places in the texts where Jesus is specifically said to be speaking in metaphor. If the author is going to go to that length then why not do us the favor and tell us that his miracles are just literary metaphors?

    While I’m open to the notion that events or ideas could possibly be attributed to Jesus in order to emphasize a theological or historical point, Im no less inclined to take the Gospels at there word.

    After all, these miracles aren’t just abnormal for us, they were abnormal in Jesus’ time; which was not lacking in supply of sceptics either.