Friday, August 17, 2007

Saint Judas is an Oxymoron

Judas is a saint

1. Now there is a list, or canon, of persons whom the Church reckons as saints. Judas Iscariot is not on this list of saints. The Church does not, strictly speaking, have a canon of the lost/damned, but I believe that there are certain people in the Bible whose eternal fate we can infer.

2. Judas's name in Hebrew (Judah = יהודה = Yehûdâh) means "praised" and Ioúdas Iskáriōth (Ιούδας Ισκάριωθ) is the Greek translation of that. His last name is Iscariot because he came from a city of Judah called Carioth; cf. Josh 15:25. He was the one of the twelve Apostles who carried the purse{1} before he betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ.{2} This is why he is called the Traitor as a proper name.{3} For he told the chief priests, after being possessed by Satan, and offered our Lord to them for money.{4} The omniscient Son of God foreknew Judas's betrayal.{5} God's knowledge was not the cause of Judas' sin, but the cause of the good by which Judas's sin was known. God knows all things perfectly and thus knows all things that are accidental to good, and this includes evil, which is the privation of good.{6}

3. Judas came with a band of the chief priests’ soldiers to where Jesus was staying with His faithful disciples. Judas came and said "Hail, Rabbi" and kissed Jesus. Jesus asked Judas two questions{7} and said "I am He," making everyone fall back onto the ground.

4. After the betrayal Judas committed suicide.{8} Before he betrayed Christ he was a great and holy man because he was one of the twelve who felt the influence of the Good Lord Jesus; he was not possessed by Satan until adulthood, pace the Apocryphal Arabic Gospel of the Infancy of the Savior, which says Satan entered him when he was still a child.

5. But Judas knew full well what would happen when he betrayed Christ but did feel guilty when he actually committed the sin, as is the case with first degree murderers. He committed the mortal sin of covetousness, betraying his Master for thirty pieces of silver.{9} Why would Jesus say that it would have been better if Judas had never been born unless Judas is damned?{10} Judas committed not only covetousness which led to deicide, but despair, which is the greatest of sins.{11} And ultimately his suicide let to his damnation.

6. For there is no way to justify Judas's suicide, i.e. to rationalize that he may have went to Heaven as did such men who killed themselves as St. Samson [Jdg 16; Heb 11] and St. Razias [2 Macc 14:42]. Contra Origen, Judas would not have killed himself to seek pardon from Christ in the afterlife, since St. Paul tells us [Rom 3:8] that "evil must not be done that good may come." The Apostle means that one may not lawfully commit a greater evil to avoid a lesser evil. Along that line Aristotle implies that a man cannot kill himself to avoid evils of this life and pass to a happier life because the greatest evil of this life is death.{12} So Judas killed himself unlawfully and thus died in a state of mortal sin because by killing himself after having betrayed Christ he destroyed his opportunity for genuine repentance and one can only kill a sinner by the sentence of a public authority, lest he usurp God's authority.{13} Moreover, Judas's betrayal is complicated (i.e. made more grievously sinful) by other factors. Hence St. John Chrysostom the Great says "Judas was not converted while partaking of the sacred mysteries: hence on both sides his crime becomes the more heinous, both because imbued with such a purpose he approached the mysteries, and because he became none the better for approaching, neither from fear, nor from the benefit received, nor from the honor conferred on him."{14} And if Judas was a saint, he would not have been replaced by St. Matthias the new Apostle.{15}

Notes and References
{1} St. John the Evangelist says [Jn 12:4-6], "Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, he that was about to betray Him, said: 'Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?' Now he said this not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and having the purse, carried the things that were put therein."
{2} St. John the Evangelist says [Jn 6:71-72], "Jesus answered them: Have I not chosen you twelve; and one of you is a devil? Now He meant Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon: for this same was about to betray Him whereas he was one of the twelve."
{3} St. Matthew says [Mt 26:14-15], "Then went one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, to the chief priests, and said to them: What will you give me, and I will deliver Him unto you?"
{4} St. Mark says [Mk 14:10-1], "And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests, to betray Him to them. Who hearing it were glad; and they promised him they would give him money."
St. Luke says [Lk 22:3-6],
And Satan entered into Judas, who was surnamed Iscariot, one of the twelve. And he went, and discoursed with the chief priests and the magistrates, how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised. And he sought opportunity to betray Him in the absence of the multitude.
St. John the Evangelist says [Jn 13:2], "the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him."
{5} St. John the Evangelist says [Jn 6:65], "For Jesus knew from the beginning, who they were that did not believe, and who he was, that would betray Him."
{6} It is a tenet of faith that God knows evil things; this is a corollary from His omniscience. King St. Solomon says [Prov 15:11], "Hell and destruction are before the Lord." Wherefore St. Dionysius the Areopagite says [On the Divine Names 7], "God through Himself receives the vision of darkness, not otherwise seeing darkness except through light."
{7} St. Matthew says [Mt 26:50], "And Jesus said to him: Friend, whereto art thou come?"
St. Luke, quoting Jesus, says [Lk 22:48], "Judas, dost thou betray the Son of man with a kiss?"
{8} St. Matthew says [Mt 27:3-5], "Then Judas, who betrayed Him, seeing that He was condemned, repenting himself, brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and ancients, saying: I have sinned in betraying innocent blood. But they said: What is that to us? Look thou to it. And casting down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed: and went and hanged himself with an halter." For Judas to have been expiated of his betrayal his confession would have needed to be all of the following, according to St. Thomas Aquinas [Summa Theologica III-S, q. 9, art. 4, obj. 1]: "simple, humble, pure, faithful, frequent, undisguised, discreet, voluntary, shamefaced, entire, secret, tearful, not delayed, courageously accusing, ready to obey." Now Judas's fate is not just a question of the quality of his confession, but his suicide.
St. Luke, quoting Pope St. Peter, says [Acts 1:16-20],
Men, brethren, the Scripture must be fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who was the leader of them that apprehended Jesus: who was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. And he indeed hath possessed a field of the reward of iniquity, and being hanged, burst asunder in the midst: and all his bowel gushed out. And it became known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem: so that the same field was called in their tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, the field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms: Let their habitation become desolate, and let there be none to dwell therein. And his bishopric let another take.
Pope St. Peter cited Ps 68:26; 108:8.
{9} St. Matthew says [Mt 27:9-10], "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was prized , whom they prized of the children of Israel. And they gave them unto the potter's field, as the Lord appointed to me."
{10} St. Matthew, quoting Jesus, says [Mt 26:24], "It were better for him, if that man had not been born."
{11} This is how St. Thomas Aquinas expounds Jer 15:18, which says, "My wound is desperate so as to refuse to be healed." See 2.II.20.3. 2.II means Second Part of the Second Part. According to Pope St. Gregory I the Great [Moral. xxxi], covetousness is a capital vice [Rom 1:29; Heb 13:5] opposed to liberality [Ecc 5:9] whose daughters are treachery, fraud, falsehood, perjury, restlessness, violence, and insensibility to mercy.
{12} Aristotle, Ethic. iii, 6.
{13} Bishop St. Augustine the Great, De Civ. Dei. i: "A man who, without exercising public authority, kills an evildoer, shall be judged guilty of murder, and all the more, since he has dared to usurp a power which God has not given him." Cf. the statement of St. Moses quoting YHWH [Dt 32:39], "I will kill and I will make to live."
{14} St. John Chrysostom the Great, Hom. lxxxii in Matth.
{15} St. Luke says [Acts 1:23-26],
And they put forward two, Joseph, called Barabbas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, "Lord, Who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two Thou hast chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside, to go to his own place." And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was enrolled with the eleven apostles.

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