Simple Catholic Snapshots
- Judas Iscariot was chosen by Christ as one of the original twelve Apostles
- By all Biblical accounts prior to the Passion, Judas was a faithful student and disciple of Jesus
- But Judas betrayed Jesus to Caiaphas which led to the Crucifixion
- Judas is pure evil, right?
- Is the story of Judas only about Judas Iscariot?
Simple Catholic Truths
Yesterday during our Bible study on St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, a question was posed that had to do with Judas and his role in God’s plan. Put simply, the question asked if Judas was a true Apostle or just a traitor planted by God for the task of betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane.
I’m sure that I’m not alone when I confess that for the longest time, I considered Judas to be practically the devil himself. Only pure evil could betray our Lord, right? Well, that was my closed opinion until last year when a short 20 minute play opened my eyes. The featured guest at our men’s retreat was Mark Price, an experienced apologist and speaker. Besides his excellent talks, Mark is a trained actor and brought that skill to our retreat.
At the end of one morning Mass, we were told to hold our places. Mark, in character as Judas Iscariot, slowly walked down the center aisle and began to share his story. So as not to spoil the impact of hearing from “Judas” himself, I’ll save any comments until later. For now, thanks to the generosity of Mark Price Ministries, I’ve included a video recording of Mark’s portrayal of Judas Iscariot. Take the time to watch the entire 22 minute video – it really isn’t that long. Let yourself be drawn back into the story of the Passion of our Lord.
That’s a pretty amazing way to encounter Scripture isn’t it? Imagine the silence after morning Mass, a small chapel full of surprised men sitting there trying to process what had just taken place.
How could this be? Is it possible that Judas was simply trying to nudge Jesus a little quicker along the ministry path? Was it just a good idea gone terribly wrong? Did Judas have a free will or was he forced to betray Christ?
It’s fun to speculate on questions like that but I’ll leave the detailed treatment of that to the scholars. I would however like to share a few observations.
First, I think its important to keep focused on the various ways to interpret Scripture. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches, there are two primary senses to the meaning of the inspired Word. First is the literal sense which boils down to asking what the author was trying to “literally” tell us (CCC 116). We need to ask what the author was trying to communicate to the people of that day and age given the language and culture and experiences of those readers. This literal sense is often simply a historical event or story, or a prophecy.
Another sense of Scripture is the spiritual sense as described in CCC 117. In a nutshell, the spiritual sense is the message that God is delivering to us about God, mankind, and/or salvation.
Second, as with most of Scripture, the story about Judas has multiple senses that we must try to embrace. Yes, the story is literal in that it tells us about a Jew, one of the original chosen twelve that betrayed our Lord and Savior. Those are unquestionable historical literal facts.
But the story of Judas also tells us about God, and mankind, and His plan of Salvation for His lost children.
Jesus was destined for the Cross and a choice of sinful man was involved. Jesus knew Judas would betray Him, that was part of the plan. Don’t you see?
Judas had a choice. He was created with a free will to accept or reject God. In this case, Judas chose self over God. Don’t you see?
Judas loved Jesus, but still chose self over God. Don’t you see?
Perhaps the story about Judas is much much more than about Judas. Perhaps the story is about you and I – about our love of Jesus and the choices we make.
Don’t you see?