4 Things We Can Learn from the Apostle Judas

Giotto, Kiss of Judas (1306)
Giotto, Kiss of Judas (1306)

This Holy Week (and especially today, “Spy Wednesday“), it’s worth taking a closer look at the Apostle Judas Iscariot. Here are four things that we can learn from him:

(1) The True Church Sometimes Has Wicked Clergy

One of the major factors motivating the Reformation was the existence of bad Catholics, but especially bad priests, bishops, Cardinals, and even bad popes. This is still one of the most common objections that people have to Roman Catholicism: how can we be expected to belong to a religious institution that is so often badly led? In the 14th and 15th century, this objection was presented in theological terms. The very earliest (pre-Luther!) Reformers, John Wycliffe (1320-84) and Jan Hus (1369-1415), argued that hell-bound Catholics weren’t part of the true Church. As a result, rotten bishops weren’t true bishops, and you didn’t need to obey them.

This is perhaps the single most important question of the Reformation. Interestingly, both the Catholics and the early Reformers were agreed that it was necessary to be part of “the Church” to be saved, and both Catholics and many modern Protestants profess their faith in “one holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.” But the question is what we mean by “the Church.” Is the true Church the set of the saved (wherever they may be found), or is it a visible, hierarchical institution?

And here, the Apostle Judas is incredibly important. Wycliffe, as well as later Reformers like John Calvin (1509-64), would point to Judas as a perfect example of someone who seems to be part of the Church, but isn’t part of the true Church. Calvin put it this way:

Judas, therefore, when he discharged the office of Apostle perfidiously, might have been worse than a devil; but not one of those whom Christ has once ingrafted into his body will he ever permit to perish, for in securing their salvation, he will perform what he has promised; that is, exert a divine power greater than all (John 10:28).

But it’s actually Wycliffe who made the connection between Judas and modern wicked clergy most forcefully, saying:

And as Judas was a thief and no member of Christ, no part of holy Church, though he ministered the order of bishop, but was a devil of Hell, as Christ sayeth in the Gospel, so if these worldly clerics shall be damned for here-cursed sins, as coveting, hypocrisy, simony, and despair, as Judas was, they be fiends of hell and no Christian men, nor members of Christ, nor part of holy Church. [1]

So Judas wasn’t part of the Body of Christ, and neither are wicked Catholic clergy. Therefore, there’s no need to obey or listen to what your priest, or your bishop, or the pope says, if you determine that he’s a wicked louse. Although the objection today tends to be presented in simpler terms, it’s the same basic argument: there are wicked Catholic priests, therefore it’s obviously not the true Church. Jesus would never have called wicked men to the altar, right?

Scripture contradicts this entire line of argumentation. Listen to how St. Matthew speaks of the call of the Twelve Apostles in Matthew 10:1-4:

And he [Jesus] called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zeb′edee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

So Judas is explicitly mentioned, not only as a Disciple but as one of the Twelve Apostles. He’s hand-picked by Christ, and given spiritual authority. Jesus confronts this reality forcefully and head-on (John 6:70-71):

Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was to betray him.

So Jesus simultaneously acknowledges how awful Judas is, and that He hand-picked him. That answers the simplistic modern argument, that Jesus would never choose wicked clergy. He did. But what about the argument that Wyclif and Calvin make, that Judas had the exterior office, but was never part of the Body of Christ, the true Church? Here, St. Paul provides the answer (1 Corinthians 12:27-28):

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues.

 

So an Apostle is the highest appointment within the Church, and within the Body of Christ.

You have to savage the plain language of Scripture to say that one of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles wasn’t part of the Church, or was never part of the Body of Christ. He was, and he was given both visible authority (the highest office, apart from Christ Himself) and even the spiritual authority to drive out demons.

Why does this matter? To put it simply:

  1. If Wyclif and Calvin and modern Protestants are right about the nature of the true Church, then Judas wasn’t an Apostle.
  2. Judas was an Apostle.
  3. Therefore, Wyclif and Calvin and modern Protestants aren’t right about the nature of the true Church.

And just as Judas truly had God-given authority within the Church, so too does the pope and so too do the bishops and priests of the Catholic Church, whether you like them or not, whether you agree with them or not, whether they’re holy or not.

(2) Clericalism is a Danger to Be Avoided

If Protestants often err in claiming that the true Church is the (invisible) collection of all the saved, a classic Catholic error is to expect that if someone is a priest or bishop, he must be holy. Given the plethora of well-publicized abuse scandals in the last decade-and-a-half, this error is less common than it used to be, but the attitude still exists. On the surface, it’s harmless, even pious. But it can be a danger in a few ways:  (1) it can create a sort of spiritual hierarchy,[2] where the clergy are holier than the laity, simply because they’re clergy; (2) priests are trusted even when they shouldn’t be [whether it’s heretical teaching, or inappropriate relationships, etc.]; and (3) the great task of lay people, to be Saints and to evangelize the world, is minimized or ignored. It’s also one of the driving forces behind the push for women’s ordination and “clericalizing the laity” – people who want to become close to God become convinced that the ordinary way to do that is to enter the clergy.

Here, it’s helpful to remember that Judas was an Apostle, precisely so we don’t forget that the Apostles sometimes had flaws. In Mark 14:17-21, there’s a critical Last Supper discourse:

And when it was evening he came with the twelve. And as they were at table eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be sorrowful, and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread in the same dish with me. For the Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

If there was any question as to who Jesus meant, John 13:26 clarifies it. And so, although Jesus never specifies that Judas is damned, this is pretty damned close. And Judas’ decision to end his own life (Acts 1:17-18) certainly doesn’t bode well.

But honestly, simply compare the behavior of Judas and the other Apostles with that of the holy women. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Judas betrays Christ, while “all the disciples forsook him and fled,” as we learn from Matthew 26:56. Only one of the Twelve, St. John, even shows up to the Crucifixion. But Matthew goes on to tell us (Mt. 27:55-56) that, at Calvary, “there were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him; among whom were Mary Mag′dalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zeb′edee.” And of course, the Virgin Mary isn’t looking on from afar, is “standing by the cross of Jesus” (John 19:25). These women aren’t priestesses, but they are Saints.

So just as you don’t have to be holy to be a cleric, you don’t have to be a cleric to be holy.

(3) Christ Wants Everyone to be Saved, and Stands Ready to Forgive

Part of the reason that John Calvin argued that Judas was not part of the true Church [see (1), above] was that Judas appears not to have been saved [as we just discussed in (2)]. And in Calvin’s vision of salvation, God has chosen some people (the elect) to be saved, and some people (the reprobate) to be damned, and nothing anyone does, positively or negatively, can move them from one category to the other. This, putting it simply, is the theology of double predestination, and it’s closely tied to the idea that the reprobate are reprobate because God doesn’t love them. As Calvin put it, “Those, therefore, whom God passes by he reprobates, and that for no other cause but because he is pleased to exclude them from the inheritance which he predestines to his children.”

Back in December, I dedicated a post to showing why that claim is unbiblical, and that God loves even those who ultimately reject Him and end up in Hell. But it’s worth considering it in the specific context of the Apostle Judas in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:47-50):

While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I shall kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Hail, Master!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, why are you here?” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him.

Judas addresses Jesus in a false, servile way as “Master,” even whilst betraying Him. In contrast, Jesus addresses Judas tenderly as “friend.” St. Luke adds Jesus’ expression of concern for Judas: “Judas, would you betray the Son of man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:48).

We see the same thing in the Old Testament prophecies of Judas’ betrayal of Christ, especially Psalms 41 and 55. Psalm 41:9 says “Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” This is fulfilled by Judas in a dramatic way in John 13:26. And in Psalm 55:12-15, the Psalmist refers to his betrayer as his “companion” and “familiar friend,” remarking: “We used to hold sweet converse together; within God’s house we walked in fellowship.” That is, Jesus and Judas appear to have had a genuine friendship, rooted in faith.

Judas betrayed that relationship, damning himself. But Christ continued to hold out the hand of friendship and of forgiveness, right up to the end. If Jesus Christ can be friends with Judas, how much more can we trust and hope in Him for salvation. no matter how black our sins?

(4) Shame Isn’t Enough

There’s a lot to be said about the place of shame in the Christian life: some people give it too much of a place, and other people no real place at all. St. Thomas Aquinas argued that “Lack of shame occurs in the best and in the worst men through different causes”: in the best men, because they lack anything to warrant shame; in the worst men, because they are proud of the wicked deeds they do. But Aquinas adds that shame is found in “average men,” “in so far as they have a certain love of good, and yet are not altogether free from evil.” But shame, while it can be good, isn’t enough, and Aquinas is careful to note that while it’s sometimes praiseworthy, it’s not a virtue.

It’s fascinating to note that both the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Judas betrayed Christ. Judas betrayed Jesus as part of a premeditated plot (Luke 22:3-6), selling Him out for a mere thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26:15). Peter, in contrast, denied Jesus three times (Luke 22:54-62), despite Christ’s explicit warning (Lk. 22:31-34). Afterwards, both Judas and Peter felt awful about what they had done. For Peter, this happens immediately after his third betrayal of Christ (Luke 22:59-62):

And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him; for he is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the cock crows today, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

For Judas, it happened after he realized that Jesus was being condemned to death (Matthew 27:3-4):

When Judas, his betrayer, saw that he was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.”

So both Judas and Peter immediately regret their sin, and Judas even gives back the bounty. But why do we recall one as the first pope, and the other as the worst villain in history? Because of how they responded to their guilt. Peter responded by proclaiming his love three times to Christ (John 21:15-17). Judas responds by despairing (Mt. 27:5): “And throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself.”

It’s this second betrayal that is the ultimate insult to Christ. It was bad enough that Judas viewed Christ so lowly that he would sell him for thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave (Exodus 21:32). It’s worse that Judas viewed Christ so lowly that he viewed his own sins as bigger than Christ’s power to forgive. Peter wept bitterly, but he saw what Judas didn’t: that Jesus Christ is bigger than sin, and that He longs to forgive. So when we’re confronted with the ugly reality of our own sinfulness, who shall we emulate: Peter or Judas?

Footnote 1. Well, what he originally said was “And as Judas was a þef and no mebre of Crist, ne pert of holy Churche, þouȝ he mynistride þe ordre of bischopod, but was a devel of helle, as Crist seiþ in þe gospel, so ȝif þes worldly clerkis schullen be dampned for here cursed synnes, as coveitise ypocrisie symonye and dispeir, as Judas was, þei ben fendis of helle and no Cristene men, ne membris of Crist, ne pert of holy Chirche.” But I’ve done my best, using online resources, to “translate” the Middle English to modern English.
Footnote 2. That is, “hierarchy” in the original sense.

27 Comments

  1. The memorial of the ‘washing of the feet’ by Jesus, also adds some details to the gravity of both Judas’ and Peter’s sin’s against Christ. Jesus gives an important teaching at this event on the difference between venial and mortal sins. And he uses both Judas and Peter to demonstrate this. Joe already described well the dialogue between Jesus and Judas, above. But, The Lord’s dialog with Peter at the washing of the feet, reveals that not all sins have the same gravity…that all offenses do not meriting what happened to Judas when it is said : “And after the morsel, Satan entered into him”.

    When Peter demanded that Jesus not wash his feet, the Lord replied: “If I wash thee not, thou shalt have no part with me. Simon Peter saith to him: Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him: He that is washed, needeth not but to wash his feet, but is clean wholly. And you are clean, but not all.” (John 13:8)

    So, we see that Jesus distinguishes between the ‘feet’ and the ‘whole body'(..ie. feet, hands and head’), wherein the filthy ‘feet’ would signify ‘venial’ sins… but the ‘feet, hands and head’ signify grave or ‘mortal’ sins, such as Judas committed. Using the filthy dirt and dust of the earth as an example, Jesus seems to concede that any contact with the earth, even by the holiest of persons, would incur some level of dirtiness, defect or sin. But these can be cleaned fairly easily, even by oneself; but even more conveniently…with the help of others. And this is why Jesus concludes the lesson with the very charitable command:

    “If then I being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also.”

    And we can also recall that Jesus told Peter, maybe only minutes after his dialog with Judas:

    “And the Lord said: 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 thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren.” (Luke 22:31)

    So, unlike Judas, where ‘Satan ENTERED INTO HIM’, Jesus says that Satan “desired to have you (like Judas) to Peter, but that Jesus PRAYED FOR HIM…resulting such that this indeed would NOT happen, but rather, something ‘filthiness’ only needing the ‘washing of feet’, i.e.. venial sin, and not ‘the whole body’ which would indicate ‘grave’ or ‘mortal’ sin.

    In this context, it appears that as Jesus ‘prayed for Peter’, and supported Him in this way, the disciples are also to pray for each other (wash their feet)…so that Satan would likewise not ‘enter into them’ through grave/mortal sin. That is to say, we are to work for each other, work for our fellow Christians salvation, as washing feet is shown by Christ to be a type of work…. but a work that also includes prayer as it’s primary element, even as the story reveals that it was JESUS’ PRAYER that was effective for strengthening and defending Peter from the overpowering influence mortal sin and Satan.

    And lastly, Jesus says to Peter ‘and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren.’ And this seems to indicate this will be accomplished by both ‘prayer’ and ‘teaching’, even as Jesus gives us an example in all of these Last Supper lessons.

    Needless to say, if ‘prayer’ is considered a ‘work’ in the above accounts…then this story signifies that Christians ARE NOT saved by faith alone…’but by works’ such as prayer and spiritual instruction, also.

    1. Interesting insight, Al. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll add to yours, re:
      Judas being mentioned last in all lists of the disciple’ names, Simon Peter being mentioned first, and head of oil poured on Jesus, greed of Judas (was he blind to consequences of indulging that), where it led, feet and head, water and oil. Women, those lovely women who loved Jesus. Thanks to Joe for seeing and saying.

      1. Judas seems to be an example of those who use God for their own ends. In his case it seems to be mainly money, and everything that money affords…as Jesus said,
        “money is the root of all evil”, and “No man can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one, and love the other: or he will sustain the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24])

        Many people make wealth their first priority, this is common. But some others actually try to use God to make money, wherein the money is the goal and the Gospel is the suitable means to acquire it. Judas seems to be such a person. His love for Christ seems to be secondary, and he probably thought that he would end up ‘treasurer’ of the Kingdom of God some day. As long as he could keep his little secret he would be very happy in this position, and up until the ‘last supper’, his secret was to him pretty easy to keep. Such greedy people try to take advantage of ‘heart on the sleeve’ naive types, and consider them to be foolish for not considering wealth as important… therefore they deserve to lose it to the wiser folks like them. And so Judas, seeing that his plan for being a leader in the new empire of the Messiah, thought to cut his losses in his investment (…alot of acting… and walking around Israel), and take whatever he could get for all the wasted time he spent helping the apostles. He probably had 30 pieces of gold in mind when he went to the High Priest, but lost at his own game, as they were much wiser with money than he…and so he settled for ‘peanuts’…so to say.

        This is actually pretty common in the world today. I have about 4 or more people who treated me like this in my former business. Even though I actually gave 2 (or more) of them used vehicles(one was a truck) so they can get around, not to mention helping them in countless other ways when they showed up at my door, in the end it was only themselves that they thought about. My charity wasn’t even considered. After about a year or more working with these guys, they all tried to get the very last bit of help out of me before moving on to another ‘Dodo brain’ who might do the same… (This was when I was newly converted and particularly tried to follow the Lord by helping the poor). One stole $1000.00 and moved about 30 miles away. Another got violent, doing kung fu swings and kicks in the air when I said , sorry, I wasn’t helping any more.

        So, this is how things work sometimes in the world. You can try your best to be charitable, but often those who see it try to take advantage. It seems that Judas was one of these types. I might add that I’m a little less naive these days, and use most of my extra money for evangelization purposes, like distributing holy literature to these same types of people. Maybe one ore two of them will be inspired and turn to Christ? ….However, that’s God’s business and not mine.

  2. If even wicked clergy have authority in the Church, what if (hypothetically), a pope were to one day reverse (or try to reverse) a dogmatic or doctrinal teaching?

      1. Or maybe not. Pope Vigilius got to be Pope by promising the Byzantine Empress that he would reinstate bishops who were heretics and teach the heretical doctrines. But once installed, he maintained the orthodox doctrine.

    1. The Church is protected against a formal, solemn declaration from the Pope of a heretical proposition. A Pope can, however, dance around the edges of this protection, proclaiming heresy by well-placed silences, or in his weekday homilies, or by banishing the orthodox and elevating the faithless. Ultimately, the “faithful” (or faithless, as the case may be) are responsible for their own choices. Will they resist a Pope who hates the Church and the Faith? Or will they seize the “opportunity” such a Pope hands them, to excuse their sins, to undermine the Faith under cover of “fidelity to the Pope”?

  3. I just returned from the ‘Tenebrae’ services of the ‘Last supper’ and ‘the washing of the feet’ tonight. There’s so much to reflect on. Everything about this’ hour’ in Jesus’ life is worth a lot of reflection. Any insights are appreciated.

      1. Hi Al,
        Add to my earlier post: Bethlehem in Hebrew means “House of Bread” and trough is the purpose of the manger.

        Also, the idea of feet and head (as in Genesis, God saying to the serpent) that the serpent shall strike at the offspring of the woman who is at enmity with the serpent, but her offspring shall crush Satan’s head:

        Judas complained when the woman broke the alabaster jar of oil to anoint Jesus’s head. Judas wanted to use the money for the poor. Today we call someone spiritually poor when they don’t have the life of Jesus within.

        I’m not able to work this all through and put into coherent logic (short on time and a bit short of brain now too). Perhaps you can pour out your insight. The idea of material, being stuck on earth, the ground where the serpent lives (except when he slithers on trees as in Eden and when he was put on the rod of Moses to be the scapegoat of sin). Jesus needed to wash his disciples feet, since our feet touch the ground where Satan dwells, and we cannot help but be exposed to Satan’s kingdom since we materially walk on it. If we have bathed (been baptized?), then all we need do is wash…. Jesus gives all we need– the material and spiritual goods. All we need do is believe in those goods and wash? The washing, the bathing. If we do not believe, we will remain stuck in the dirt and unable to rise with the Lord. (John 13)

        Alleluia!

  4. As has Joe, Bl. Fulton Sheen discusses Judas and Peter in “The Priest is Not His Own.” At odds with Wycliffe’s claim that Judas had been ‘ingrafted’ (John 10), Sheen writes that Judas’ betrayal began when he refused (to believe) Jesus’ method of ingrafting described in John 6:65, where Jesus says:

    For Jesus knew from, the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was who should betray him.

    John 6 takes place around the time (?the day?) of Passover. At the next Passover, Satan enters Judas upon Judas’ taking the morsel Jesus offered.

    So perhaps it was not Judas’ greed which led to his final betrayal. Judas’ main sin rather was his ultimate non-acceptance of faith in Jesus’ as the bread of spiritual life. This lack of faith denied Jesus’ divinity and denied Jesus’ method of sharing his divinity in the way He and His father chose. Jesus of course had been born in Bethlehem (which means bread), and he was placed in the manger (the raised above ground food-holder for animals). Judas and many others could not accept a spiritual kingdom; they wanted one on earth.

    Greed certainly played a part; it was well known that Judas, as treasurer, dipped his hands into the money bag. He sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver–the price in those days of a slave. Judas purchased the sin which enslaved him.

    1. Happy Easter, Margo. Jesus has risen from the dead, Alleluia!

      The symbolism discussed in your two comments is very rich. Unfortunately it would take a book to unpack it all. But I like the way that you start with Genesis, give orientation of both the filthy earth below and God (Eternal Goodness and Love)above; and that serpents try to bring down souls to their wicked and ‘earthly’ level…but shepherds ‘staffs’ (rod of Moses) are used physically to help persons/souls to remain upright and spiritually moving, and especially if they are injured..like a walking cane. they are also useful in killing serpents, even as an ‘auxiliary, or third, heal’. So, crushing the heads of serpents is much more efficient with a shepherds staff in hand.

      And, it’s interesting that Moses links the staff with the serpent raised up upon it, and also, wherein those who look at this image are healed of their deathly venomous bites. Jesus also refers to Moses’ rod, or staff also, and the gospel account seems to convey the idea that just looking at (meditating upon) the crucifix of Christ has some power to heal souls. This healing power appears to be an understanding of the love of God for us, as we contemplate Christ’s sacrifice; we visibly see how much God actually loves us when we look at, and understand, it’s significance. This, in turn, helps to innoculate us against the venom of inordinate pleasures, sins and temptations here below, where, satan is constantly trying to ‘strike at our heal’s, so as to bring us down to ‘his level’ of misery.

      As you mention also, we have water that others (in the Church) use to ‘wash our feet’ to keep help us stay clean from contact with the filthy earth (ie. sin). And we have the whole washing (confession and penance) when we need it after committing grievous and ‘mortal’ sin…ie. as Jesus gave power to His apostles, saying: “whose sin’s you forgive will be forgiven, whose sins you retain will be retained”.

      Anyway, the symbolism and teachings of scripture and Our Lord Christ are great. Now we just need to follow them carefully. And of course there is a lot more to them, but it will take a lifetime and longer to understand them fully.

      Again, Happy Easter!

      – Al

  5. Thank you for this Joe! Even if this was the entirety of your point, I’m so moved at the compassion which Christ showed to even Judas. He is a good God, to be sure.

    IC XC + NIKA
    -John

  6. Jesus taught: “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another.”

    Here the Lord is giving a type of tangible proof, or test, that anyone can perform, as to whether a Christian we meet can be believed and trusted….or whether he is a fraudulent disciple: If he has love for his fellow disciples.

    Judas was obviously one of these ‘fraudulent disciples’. He certainly lost his love for Christ, and probably the other disciples…if he ever really had any to begin with. Most likely, the breaking point came when Jesus praised Mary of Bethany for using thousands of dollars worth of precious spikenard to anoint Jesus before His passion. But, probably what angered Judas most was not the mere exorbitant cost of the ointment, but rather His public praise for this highly charitable and caring act of hers ( an act of charity also signifying or revealing a true disciple, as noted above). Jesus not only praised her then and there, but prophesied of her that she would be remembered until the end of the world, for this charitable act she performed. He said:

    “Amen, I say to you, wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, that also which she hath done, shall be told for a memorial of her.” ( Mark 14:9)

    And immediately after, the Gospel says ” And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests, to betray him to them.”

    When Jesus prophesied of her, he knew that when anyone until the end of the world was taught the Gospel, that it was he, Judas, that was the antagonist who argued against this use of the precious spikenard. That is to say, that Christ chastised him before all…and that this story of his ‘penny pinching’ miserliness would be told publicly for all generations (Even as the Blessed Virgin Mary prophesied : ‘ from this day all generations will call me blessed).

    Judas could not have missed this distinction between himself and the beloved Mary of Bethany. And he knew that his reputation would be infamous from that time on, even if he never betrayed Christ to the Chief Priests.

    So, we see how this is an example of the saying that a true disciple is made known by his love for the other disciples.

    And this is also a proof against the doctrine of ‘sola scripture’, because according to Christ, faith comes from identifying the love that is inherent in the physical and living community of disciples…and not just in a scroll, parchment, or book binded text. And why is it the ‘living community’, the ‘living body’ that demonstrates the true faith and true identity of His authentic disciples? Because Christ could not wait around for his Church to become literate, or for the Gospel to be translated into 500+ languages all over the world, so that all people could understand it and find faith. Christ meant the gospel and faith to be preached by mouth, soul to soul, and with great love and sacrifice on the part of the teachers who were spreading the verbal Gospel. And this was how the Jews also spread their own religion at the time, by both reading the sacred text in the synagogues, and memorizing what they heard there, all the while putting it into practice and living what they learned.

    So, if you want people to find Christ through you, you ought to start loving your fellow disciple in your local community and parish…and online too. This little detail for the spreading of Christ’s holy faith is more important than most people think.

    1. Thank you, Al, for the many gifts you give.

      Wycliffe quotes John 10:28 as proof that Judas could not be a member of the church because of his sins. Wycliffe bases this conclusion on scripture saying that Jesus would never cast out of his body one who had been ingrafted into His Body. As Joe points out, Jesus did not cast off (or de-graft) Judas but offered him forgiveness to the end. It was, instead, Judas who freely chose–to disbelieve His teaching on bread, to dip his hands into church funds, to become livid at funds lavished on Jesus, to betray Jesus, and to despair. Jesus invited Judas, gifted him the office of Apostle, allowed his position as treasurer, washed his feet, and offered him, as his friend, His body.

      Once reformers accepted one false premise like predestination without works, without free will, all else became fair for revision.

      John 10:27 says that Jesus’ sheep hear His voice, He knows them and they follow Him. Did Judas follow Jesus in his choices? Judas himself strayed from the flock, pruned himself out of the vine, and de-grafted himself out of the church. But yes, he did attend the Supper of the Lamb, disbelieving all the while.

      1. As far as Protestant reformers go, I think most of the Reformation fiasco was started by Martin Luther’s poor choice of vocation, under a sort of a self imposed duress related to the lightning strike incident. It was no reason for him to become a monk…one of the worst beginnings of a vocation I ever read of…and I’ve read a lot of the lives of the saints.

        There also seems to be some similarities between Luther and Judas, in that they both abandoned the flock of believers that had been established by Christ. In abandoning the Catholic Church, Luther had to abandon the faith of people such as: Francis of Assisi, Bernard of Clairvaux, Dominic, all of the Desert Fathers, Basil of Ceasarea, all of the monks of Ireland, Thomas Aquinas, St. Bede, St. Anselm, St. Gregory the Great, St. Albert the Great, St. Patrick, etc… etc… The list of great Saints go’s on and on…

        To not recognize the holiness of all of these great souls, is to make the same mistake that Judas did. He couldn’t see the virtues of the other apostles due to his massive focus on his own person, his own ego. Luther was the same. No one was to be compared to… ‘Doctor Luther’.

          1. Personally, I believe the theory you provided in the link. It makes sense, and has quotes from Luther to back it up. That Luther never felt called to religious life, according to his own words, is a signal something went very wrong with his early vocation. Most people if they get married never forget (in a good way) their wedding. And also for normal monks, priests and nuns…they never forget their ordinations and religious vows. Their memories of these life events are great and happy ones. But Luther is very different. He was definitely not called by God to take religious vows. Even as he stated to his friend, that he had fear a of…he made fraudulent, sacrilegious, vow, which is the completely wrong way to start serving God, and His Church, in this world.

            Great link, ABS. I’ve seen that before….but forgot about it. It’s a good resource, and provides a pretty credible theory for his bizarre religious behavior, and custom fabricated (tailor made for him), theological doctrines.

  7. Awims. Amen.

    Even some arranged marriages are successful but not a marriage that in any way is comparable to Luther and his vows.

    It is a shame so many feel constrained to try and rehabilitate him as a model christian because to do that is to necessarily condemn the Catholic Church of the past.

    And that is telling because those trying to rehabilitate Luther really do think the Church of today is fundamentally different from the Church of the past

  8. “4 Things We Can Learn from the Apostle Judas”

    And a 5th: We should all trust and love our fellow disciples in the Lord, contrary to Judas’ egoistical example. Judas did not only reject and betray Jesus, but the entire society of apostles and disciples as well. This is to say that his giant ambitions and ego blinded him to the simple enjoyment of his fellow Christians, wherein he would marvel at the individual gifts particularly provided to them by God. In each of them he would have found a piece of the puzzle forming the image and body of the mystical body of Christ. But he could neither see these talents nor enjoy their simple companionship. He had other objectives in mind, another treasure occupied his attention, for as Jesus says: “Where your treasure is there also your heart will be”.

    Jesus certainly loved and trusted His disciples. And so, we should also. We should have the confidence that in every decade since the coming of Christ there have been many faithful and loving disciples of Christ. And they might not even be the great bishops and martyrs of Church history. They might be like the woman who put in her last penny into the Temple treasury, or, the many that no one ever sees who enter into their private chambers and speak to God their Father with great love and devotion; wherein also an infinite recompense is repaid to them by God, according to the word of Christ.

    So, for all the doubters out there, it’s good to open your eyes to the virtues of your brother and sister Christians. You can find them at daily Mass, sitting right next to you. You might not think much of them there…but you are not there when they raise their souls to God with love and devotion in the depths of their own souls. But if you are patient, even in their simplicity,humility and silence you can see their devotion, faith and love for God. Why would they be at the daily Mass in the first place…if they didn’t have some secret attraction and love for the Lord? so, even if they be old, quiet and simple, with few words, you can trust that they are disciples….hidden as they are amongst the loud and boisterous people.

    The enjoyment of the companionship of the body of Christ, is what Judas lost. And, we can lose it too if we think that our spirituality, our great minds and great faith, are so superior to those of others around us. In this we choose to value only one little part of the body, maybe one solitary piece of hair (which is ourselves)over all the other parts and organs. We value that little part more than all the rest, thinking either that the others actually don’t exist, or that they aren’t really necessary…so beautiful is the hair. And so, an egoistical part of the mystical body of Christ will never understand how the whole body of Christ works, both in integrity and unity, serving the Lord and Creator.

    This is how people, like Judas, easily break company with ‘the body’. For them, the only important element of the body is themselves….the other parts can be done away with.

    So, we should learn to be patient with all of the various parts of the mystical body of Christ. This way, if we get to Heaven, we won’t be repulsed by these same people thinking….”how did all of these dirty rats get in?”

    1. Al,
      Yes. Your last sentence gives us something to think, to pray and to act on today lest God denies us the opportunity to think that thought again.

      1. That’s a good point Margo. St. Francis said that we shouldn’t neglect the Lord’s gifts and graces to us at the time they are offered, as it might make the Giver reluctant to offer it again.

        There’s also a story from the Desert Fathers regarding St. Daniel, a monk, when he went to visit for the first time St. Simon the Stylite who lived on top of a Roman pillar (30+ ft.) in Syria for over 35 years. As he was traveling, Daniel met other monks going to visit St. Simon also, and so they walked together. On their journey the other desert fathers began to debate why St. Simon was up on the pillar, as so many devout and more normal Fathers were content with their humble cells on the ground level. And they started talking negatively of him, speculating that he put himself up there to be more noticed by the world, out of vanity. And these monks continued to talk like this until they arrived at the pillar.

        Then, when they arrived, they listened to Simon preaching to the people below and recognized immediately that he indeed was an undeniably very holy man. And they were all ashamed of their former debates, that when a ladder was placed for any who would have a private conversation with Simon, all of those monks who spoke bad of him were too embarrassed to go up. And, so, of all that group, only the quiet and patient St. Daniel went up for a private talk, having never speculated or judged Simon on the way.

        Some time later, Daniel, in his former monastery, had a dream of St. Simon who called to him, saying…”Daniel, come up here”. And about a day or two later, a monk arrived at the monastery, saying that the ship which he was traveling on had repairs needed, and asked if they might offer him a place to stay. Then he told them that St. simon had recently passed away, and that he was bringing the habit of St. Simon to a certain king (or royalty) who was devoted to him, but then Daniel told him of a different plan. He felt that that habit was meant for him, because of the recent dream…and so, even having never having lived on a pillar, nor knowing if it was possible for a normal monk like him to be able to do something so extreme, he begged for the habit of St. Simon. He then put it on him and traveled back to the Simons pillar. So, Daniel took Simons place and lived on top of that same pillar for 15+ years to the amazement and edification of many.

        So, this is a good story to prove your point. The saints have always been prompt in following the inspiration of God in their lives. They didn’t let the many graces offered to them fall to the ground and be wasted. May we all try to be like them.

        Best to you,

        – Al

        1. In reading wikipedia on Daniel the Stylite, it seems to be very different than the story I read some years back. No where is it mentioned that he took Simons habit, or took his same column. However, he did indeed live on a column for about 33 years. I’ll try to investigate my earlier account, that I pretty much memorized as it was singularly fascinating.

          1. Hi Al,

            Thank you for the grand story and the attempt to authenticate. As you say, the saints are saints because they don’t procrastinate at any opportunity to serve God.

            As a child of the post-computer age, I tend to rely on historically tested-to-be-true-information sources, so I trust Butler’s Lives of Saints. One does not bear the saint label without the performance of miracles witnessed and proven; I don’t discount Butler but remain skeptical of Wikipedia.

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