Today is Spy Wednesday, so called because of the conspiracy hatched by Judas with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus for thirty-pieces of silver. Judas was paid even before he delivered Our Savior to His enemies. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him (Matt.24:16).

Much speculation is tossed around today about the fate of the miserable traitor. In spite of the almost universal agreement of the Fathers and the teaching of the likes of St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Bonaventure, there are those who feel it is important to depopulate hell. In spite of Our Lord’s own words: 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 (Matt. 26:24), there still those who want to rehabilitate Judas.

And then, of course, there is the National Geographic Society, that powerhouse of “scientific inquiry” that has attempted to enlighten benighted Christians to the effect that Judas is not a traitor at all, but a hero! And, of course, they so piously reserved the revelation of their “discovery” for Easter of last year.

My point is not to revel in the thought of the fact that Judas is in hell. I am all for hope, and we need much of it today; however, one of the snares in the spiritual life is to swing between presumption and despair. Hope is in the middle. It is a severe and determined realism. Judas was not a victim, and he does not deserve rehabilitation. There are virtually no signs of his salvation is Sacred Scripture. His throwing the silver pieces back at the Sanhedrin and his declaration that he had betrayed innocent blood, led not to his repentance, but to his suicide.

In moral theology a distinction is made between true contrition and defective contrition or remorse. Remorse, that is, regret for having sinned, does not necessarily amount to conversion and repentance. There is always the need to seek forgiveness and to make amends. Judas did none of this. I have no problem with rational arguments, but touchy-feely sentimentality will not aid us in the salvation of our souls.

How about this for Holy Week paraliturgical sentimentality?

In Poland, the young people throw an effigy of Judas from the top of a church steeple. Then it is dragged through the village amidst hurling sticks and stones. What remains of the effigy is drowned in nearby stream or pond.

None of this is to say that I have a right to act as though I am so far above it all, and casually blog about the reprobate God-killer. This is the Week of Mercy, and we all need it!

St. Philip Neri, the saint who at the end of his life died of love (his heart ruptured), used to pray this every morning: “O Jesus, watch over me always, especially today, or I shall betray you like Judas.”

5 thoughts on “Traitor!

  1. Of course it could also be said that Judas performed a necessary if vile function in the plan of God. Jesus had to be betrayed and killed, so Judas did it. The suicide is a completely different matter and I know Catholicism view on it.

  2. This is something I have had a little trouble with in the past. I used to think that we do not know if he repented in that fraction of a second before the rope tightened, and I hoped for him. Now I realize that one of His apostles should have known that Jesus would forgive ANY offense, if fully repentant for it. It is sad that some reject the grace necessary to humbly ask forgiveness and to forgive themselves. I think that some people, when they realize the enormity of their actions, succumb to despair and act rashly, rejecting God’s grace.

    jonolan- while Judas did perform this vial function, he didn’t have to go to Hell. He should have gone to Christ himself and begged forgiveness, which would have been given. Although he gave back the silver, his focus was on himself. He didn’t want blood money, but he also didn’t apologize or TRUST in God- Christ was the one he hurt, Christ should have been his focus, if he really repented. INstead, he felt his sin was too big for God to forgive (which is ego, and insulting to God, as if His mercy has limits). Then, he decided he wasn’t worthy of forgiveness, and didn’t trust that God loved him and could make him worthy again. (we can’t make ourselves worthy of heaven, only God can,and does because he loves us)
    As for the Catholic view of suicide, in cases other than Judas, there is hope for salvation, and certain things, such as mental illness or ignorance give more hope, for God is just, and loving.

  3. There is always the slightest chance of a change of mind as the rope tightened, but we cannot even know the full details of that situation. Though I once read a small book on a case of Demonic Possession, in which one of the Spirits claimed to be that of Judas… Interesting…

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