Tuesday, 11 April 2017

The Judas Question.


Father Ignatius was chairing the monthly “Any Questions” meeting at the Parish Hall. This is an event he had initiated some time ago whereby parishioners and their guests gather of an evening, and after refreshments of tea, coffee, hot chocolate drinks and cakes, they sit in cinema fashion and ask him any question totally un-prepared. Usually the questions are about the day to day running of the church, or the two Catholic schools nearby; but more often than not there are some questions about Christianity and the Catholic Faith.

Father Ignatius was convinced that the hot drinks and cakes were the main attraction; but he was assured this was not the case.

His curve ball came from a young lady sitting at the front.

“Father,” she said, “I can’t help feeling sorry for Judas. What chance did he really have? He had to betray Jesus; because if he didn’t do so, he’d be going against God’s will. So what choice or free will did Judas have?”

The priest put down his cup of coffee and cleaned his spectacles; a trick he had learnt in order to gain time.

“Would it help if I say I don’t know the answer to this?” he said eventually.

After a short pause the young lady continued, “well Father, I don’t understand the difference between our free will, or Judas’ free will, to do as we wish, and pre-destination to do what God has determined will happen.”

Before the priest could answer a man put up his hand and said: “Oddly enough, I was reading about this the other day. In John Chapter 17 I think it was. When Jesus was praying for His disciples He says to God something like ‘I kept the disciples safe. Not one was lost except the one who was meant to be lost so that the Scriptures may come true.’ This implies that Judas had no choice. He was pre-programmed as it were to betray Jesus.”

A few of the audience murmured at this; perhaps they hadn't read or heard about it.

“Free will and pre-destination are matters which have taxed many a learned brain over the centuries,” replied Father Ignatius gently, “and no doubt they will continue to do so.

“I am not God, and so I do not have a definite answer for you. But I assure you I will ask Him when I get to meet Him.

“In the meantime, let us consider the question a bit more.

“When God created us He had two choices.

“He could have created a species of robots. All pre-programmed to obey Him, to love Him and to do His will without question.

“And how trouble-free that would have been! No sin, no rebellion, no satan.

“But God loved us so much that He gave us a precious gift. He gave us the gift to choose. He allowed us to decide whether to love Him back, or not.

“When He invited us to return His love for us, He did so with no coercion whatsoever from His part. Love given freely by Him, and returned freely by us; but only if we want to.

“Hence our free will to choose.

“We are free to decide what we do with our lives. To love and obey Him, or to go our own way.

“Yet having said so, there are instances in the Bible where God does lead, or encourage, certain people in some direction. Look at the way he nudged Paul on the way to Damascus for instance.”

The audience laughed.

“You may well laugh,” continued Father Ignatius, “but God may have seen some good qualities in Paul which could come useful in furthering God’s Word on earth. And how right He was!

“After all, why should the devil have all the good talent?”

The audience laughed again.

“So …,” went on the priest after they had settled down, “whilst on the face of it there is some evidence, in our eyes, that God does lead us in some direction it is somewhat presumptuous on our part to try to analyze when this is pre-destination and when it is free will.

“But this so-called evidence is in our eyes only. Because we try to understand God in human terms. Something we should not do, in my opinion, because we are humans and He is not.

“By analyzing Him in human terms we bring Him down to our level. And this is wrong.

“God does not want us to understand Him and analyze His motives. He wants us to love Him and to dare to obey Him, in blind Faith, in the sure knowledge that He knows what He is doing.

“Can we do that? Dare to obey Him without question?

“And not want to serve God in an advisory capacity. But as obedient children, trusting His every word and action.”

The priest stopped for a second and sipped his coffee.

“Let Him be God and let us be humans. And let us always be willing to listen to Him when He leads us in a certain direction” continued Father Ignatius.

“I really cannot tell you whether Judas was pre-programmed, as you put it, or not. Did Judas really have a free choice? Could he have decided not to follow his evil instincts and not betray Jesus? In the Gospel of John he tells us that Jesus gave a piece of bread to Judas, to point at the one who was to betray Him, and at that instant 'Satan entered into him'; signifying perhaps that it was the devil who betrayed Jesus, and Judas was only an instrument in all this. I really do not have an answer to this, but I trust God to know the answer to that question and to have dealt with it with compassion, fairness and love.

“Finally, I wish to say this.

“I did not fall out of bed one morning and decide to become a priest. At the time, I felt led by God to follow the path to priesthood. It was a gradual process, it took time and it took a lot of thinking and praying … and eventually, I knew that He was calling me.

“God may well be calling some of you these days. Not necessarily into the priesthood, but to listen to Him and His will for you.

“I pray that you’d be listening when He calls you to do whatever He asks of you in this life.”

12 comments:

  1. YOU are a brave man to tackle this subject, Victor! Have spent HOURS discussing this very subject!
    Blessings, My Friend!

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    1. I would like to hear your views, Lulu. We don't often have intellectual discussions on this Blog. I'll try to post more subjects for discussion after Easter, because that's how we learn from each other.

      God bless you my friend.

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    2. Well My Friend, as brief as possible on such a DEEP subject---there are 5 points of Calvinism--TULIP. I am 4/5 or 80% on board with Calvin. The 5th point--I have a difficult time crossing the bridge. Total Depravity of Man--YEP! Unlimited Grace--FOR SURE! Limited Atonement--HMMM--can't quite get there! Irresistible Pull of the Holy Spirit-CHECK! Perseverance of the Saints--Thankfully! Want more? I have spent hour upon hour with great Calvinist friends discussing this!

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    3. Thank you so much for returning on this topic, Lulu. I much appreciate your views.

      I shall read more about Calvinism.

      God bless you always, my friend.

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  2. This is a very good discussion on a hard topic! Thank you for sharing, especially during Holy Week. May you have many Blessings this Easter!

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    1. Thank you again for your visit here Bettie. Yes, this is a difficult topic and I'd certainly hope we can discuss peoples' views.

      Have a prayerful Holy Week. God bless.

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  3. Judas had free will. It's just that God knew ahead of time what Judas' choice was going to be. I don't see any problem with free will there. God already knows what you're going to do tomorrow, but He didn't alter your choice.

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    1. Thank you Manny. I can always rely on you for a good discussion; for which I am grateful.

      A priest told me once exactly what you just said. Judas had free will. What I don't understand, and the priest did not have an answer, is what Jesus said about Judas being "meant to be lost so that the Scriptures may come true". Had Judas used his free will and NOT betray Jesus, would he somehow have gone against Scriptures? Would He have foiled God's will for him?

      See how I have a problem with this? Scriptures had foretold that Judas would betray Jesus. God knew that, as you say. Jesus knew that. But did Judas know that? Was Judas acting freely in betraying Jesus, or was he blindly following a pre-set plan/destiny for him? If he was acting freely then could he REALLY have chosen not to betray Jesus?

      I'm confused.

      God bless you Manny; and thank you for starting the discussion.

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    2. Romans 9:17 and Exodus 9:16 tell us God raised Pharaoh up for this very purpose. In my mind, there is no time frame for God--he sees all in one look. SO He knows what we are going to do--foreknowledge and it would seem from the scriptures cited in Romans and Exodus some were placed in positions to accomplish God's eternal purposes.

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    3. Thank you Lulu for taking the time to return on this difficult subject. I really appreciate your time and your comments.

      You can see why I get so confused on this subject. In Romans 9:17 it goes on to say in 9:18 "So then, God has mercy on anyone he wishes, and he makes stubborn anyone he wishes." If God makes someone stubborn this implies, to me, that that person is controlled in some way or other by a superior being - God. Does it then mean that this person has lost an element of self-will, or free will? Did Paul really have any choice on what to do next when he fell off his horse and was blinded?

      Please continue to visit here, Lulu. I am drafting a real discussion topic to be published after Easter. Readers views would be quite interesting. I hope more people join in the discussion.

      God bless you.

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  4. Hi Victor! How I love Fr. Ignatius. I think having an open mic with the pastor on a regular basis is a FABULOUS idea.
    As to Judas, I did just hear the Scripture this morning at mass about 'Satan entering him', and it gave me pause. Certainly I have heard this passage for years, but it really hit me today. Did Satan really enter him? Or did Judas just solidify his own decision and therefore go over to the evil?
    These are good, searching and theological questions you pose. I don't know if there are answers to them, but it shows you are trying to understand God's movement here on earth. Shouldn't we all be doing that?
    Blessings,
    Ceil

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    1. Thank you Ceil for joining the discussion. I really appreciate it.

      It only struck me today, after all these years, the bit about "Satan entered him". I don't know what it means. Was he suddenly possessed, hence it was not Judas acting, but Satan?

      As for having an open mic evening in church. I have suggested it many times to our priests but none want to take it on. I volunteered to compere the meeting and collect the questions beforehand so there would be no surprise or trick questions for the priests. But they don't want to do it. Instead a priest started a "discussion group". I went to the first meeting. It was him talking as if he was giving a sermon. I fell asleep.

      Please continue visiting here Ceil. I am preparing another post for discussion which will be published after Easter. I'd welcome your views.

      Have a prayerful Holy Week. God bless you and yours.

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God bless you.

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