Saturday, April 19, 2014
An old neighbor and friend asked me a question on Facebook that led to an interesting discussion about Judas.
He's a lover of Christ whose family practiced in the Protestant Church. As often happens in life, he strayed from Christ and I sense is trying to find his way back. He's been intrigued by some of my posts on Facebook and will occasionally ask a question about Catholic theology or the Sacraments.
I posted a picture yesterday of Judas giving Christ a kiss with the caption "Judas Iscariot, patron saint of social justice". (Was that Blessed Fulton Sheen?) My friend asked "Is it true Christ forgave Judas?".
My response was he never asked for forgiveness. No askie, no receive'.
To my surprise, another Catholic friend chimed in that we do not know the fate of Judas and we mustn't forget the virtue of hope.
Since this does not comport with what we know, I thought it worth some discussion.
Christ did not keep Judas' fate a secret.
He publicly revealed His Knowledge that Judas is condemned.
He called Judas a devil. (One of you is a devil)
He said it would have been better for Judas had he not been born.
There are two kinds of sorrow and repentance. Judas displayed one, Peter the other.
Judas was sorrful unto himself.
Peter was sorrowful unto Christ.
The distinction between being sorrowful unto oneself and being sorry unto Christ manifests itself throughout the Gospel.
Remorse isn't the same thing as repentance.
Betraying Christ with sin brings unpleasant consequences, pain.
Consequences stink. We can be sorry about how consequences affect us. We can experience regret.
These sentiments should not to be confused with the kind of sorrow that admits sin and seeks forgiveness and absolution.
A man can kill and regret that he has to spend the rest of his life in jail. He can feel terrible pain that he is separated from his family, his freedom is taken away and he is stuck in the hell hole of prison.
That is sorrow unto oneself.
Unless that is accompanied with sorrow about the actions he took to take the life of another, the remorse and regret for the pain he has caused others - including and most especially Christ - the sorrow doesn't have the right properties going on to obtain forgiveness.
Let me use a more concrete example.
Take for example a person who is sexually active with a person to whom they are not married and they know that situation puts them outside of the Body of Christ.
They can feel great pain over the separation from Christ but when it comes to the choice between having what they want and desire and admitting what they are doing is sin and stopping the conduct so they can reconcile with Christ, they choose the former.
Feeling sorrow doesn't cut it.
Peter betrays Christ, but his remorse is about Christ. He seeks forgiveness with the firm purpose of amendment. He obtains it.
Christ put Himself between two thieves. There is very subtle theology about forgiveness and redemption in the conversation between the three of them.
Note that one thief's sorrow mocks Christ while still asking to be saved. Christ never speaks to him. (This is something He does throughout his entire 3 years of ministry, most notably with Herod. Theology explains that Christ's silence indicates the state of the soul condemned)
The other thief admits sin, expresses remorse, asks for forgiveness. His Baptism of desire in his final moments wins him salvation.
It is true that we are not privy to where the mercy of God will apply itself.
In the case of Judas, He didn't keep it a secret.