Around the world today, there is a dramatic increase in occult activity. Specialist claim this increase is triggered by Hollywood glamorizing serial killers, vampires, witches, pornography, and occult activity. This steady climb of demonic activity has resulted in a need for more exorcists around the world. Milan, over the past 15 years has seen demonic activity increase to the point that they needed to go from 1-12 priests and include an exorcist hot-line to manage the demand. This growing need has caused Pope Francis to press upon following Catholic doctrine for all dioceses to have at least one priest trained to perform exorcisms.
So what is going on in the world to cause this increase? There are many speculations and to address possibilities and create solutions the Vatican endorsed a week-long conference on exorcism at the Pontifical University of Regina. 160 religious and laity participated and many strongly suggested that the root of the increase was pornography, television programs, drugs and the glamorization of occult activities. Fr. Gabriele Amorth Rome’s chief exorcist claims “there are only two spiritual realms: The Holy Spirit and the demonic spirit.” The demonic enters in “because evil is disguised in various ways: political, religious, cultural, and it has one source of inspiration: the devil. He also, speaks of IVF fertility treatment is another avenue the devil is using to creep into Christian lives. Looking at the situation of Modern Family actress Sofia Vergara, who is in a legal battle with her ex-fiance over three frozen embryos we can understand maybe why. She wants the embryos destroyed because they are no longer a couple, and he wants them to live. These embryos are considered not to be alive by society’s definitions. However, the Church stands firm that they have souls at the moment of conception likely able to feel pain. All three embryos were classified as female. If these embryos were not alive at conception how would science be able to determine their sex? Are we being deceived into thinking this is not life therefore it is okay to kill them? The church has consistently stated that life begins at conception.This situation is not moral relativism but, moral ethics.
Fr. Amorth has a record of 70,000 cases of demonic possessions and believes the sex abuse scandal is proof the devil is at work in the Vatican. He also thinks ISIS is “Satan,” he says, ISIS took control of the largest Christian city in Iraq, Qaraqosh, in August last year, causing tens of thousands of people to flee.The terrorist group has persecuted and murdered Christians and other religious minorities in parts of Syria and Iraq. People have turned a scared and blind eye and young people are being taught that there is no such thing as the devil or evil. Do you remember the movie the exorcist?
It is based on a true story of a 12-year-old boy possessed from playing with a ouija board with his aunt. Last year, September 2014, 40-50 people attended a black mass in Oklahoma City causing a major uproar. I am only writing about a few reports that I’ve heard about recently there are many other happenings in regards to demonic activities going on. I hope that it is enough to make you more aware and to be careful. Searching for more spirituality is best explored within the confines of the Church, not in parapsychology, new age, and self- help books.
Professor Fr. Cesare Truqui a Swiss exorcist trained participants at the conference how to differentiate between demonic possession and psychiatric disabilities. Some of the ways to recognize the difference has to do with ancient tongues, supernatural strength and at times levitation. They also issued these exorcism guidelines:
Don’t try this at home
Professor Giuseppe Ferrari gave delegates at the Vatican-backed course a checklist for improve the effectiveness of exorcisms.
* Exorcisms should only be carried out by properly trained priests, licensed to do so by the diocese in which they work. Priests can not perform exorcisms in different dioceses without special permission.
* Lay people should never perform exorcisms, say the special prayers of liberation, nor bless or touch a possessed person.
* Exorcists should defer to qualified doctors or psychiatrists though priests may help by praying.
* Priests should not perform the Eucharist during an attempt to exorcise somebody because that can make the process “too Hollywood”.
* Priests must welcome and pay heed to anyone who reports that a demonic possession may have taken place.
* Exorcists should consider the possibility that symptoms may be due to known medical conditions and seek appropriate professional advice if they suspect this to be the case.
Demons, are they real or just fantasy? If they are real how will you protect yourself and your families from them? Will you pray for discernment and enlightenment into the truth on moral issues? and will you stand firm for the truth regardless of the repercussions as the early Church leaders have done and many continue to do today?
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older (18% of U.S. population). Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only about one-third of those suffering receive treatment. These statistics from Anxiety and Depression Association of America are alarming. It is probably safe to say that everyone will experience some form of anxiety in their life if they have not already. I come from a family with a history of anxiety and panic attacks. Before I was diagnosed with Graves’s disease and misdiagnosed for four-year my disease escalated to the point of causing me severe anxiety. During those four years, I learned some very helpful secrets. I call them secrets because, unfortunately, many people don’t talk about their anxiety and keep it a secret as though it is something to be ashamed of and it isn’t, keeping it a secret only makes it worse. If you are experiencing anxiety from everyday stresses and particular life circumstances try these four techniques to calm your anxiety.
- BREATHE, by focusing on your breathing you can calm your anxiety within seconds. A helpful breathing technique I used to not only calmed my anxiety but, to calm my labor pains during pregnancy. Six months into my second pregnancy, I experienced early labor. My doctor threatened to put me in the hospital and on medications if it didn’t stop. Anyone who knows me well knows I am not fond of any medications especially, if it would affect my child, so I self- meditated instead, through a breathing technique that worked. Every time I went into labor I sat quietly wherever I was and focused on my breathing until all labor subsided. It got me through 2 ½ months bringing the pregnancy to a safer delivery time. Here is the technique I used:
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound while pushing your stomach in.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four while pushing your stomach out.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight while pushing your stomach in.
- This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle until you feel calm and ready to move.
- Avoid stimulants and irritants like caffeine and stressful T.V. shows: Believe it or not watching or listening to stressful content can trigger anxiety. It doesn’t have to be your own stress to feel stress, and caffeine can increase your heart rate triggering more anxiety. Slice a lemon, squeeze it into a mug then drop it to the bottom and pour boiling water in to make hot lemon water. It will soothe and comfort you while giving you added doses of vitamin C. Then unplug from technology and relax. Listen to nature as it sings you a soothing melody.
- Be fully present in the now: There is no greater gift you can give yourself or the person you are with than to give your full conscious attention. Too often, we give ourselves anxiety by thinking about the past. Replaying things a different way as though we have the power to change past regrets and we don’t. Our only power is in the present moment. Your past is like your ass; it is behind you so stop straining your head to look back at it “let it go” focus on what is before you. Drop the baggage weighing you down worrying about the past and the future. It is a waste of energy and time is so short. Learn the art to “just be” and by “being” you naturally melt the stress.
- Take Inventory of your problems: Write down each problem you feel you have pressing in on you; number each one by how it will effect you 1 year from now, 6 months from now and 1 month from now. Will it be relevant to you then? Most problems we perceive are not relevant down the road they are just our disappointments from our high expectations of how we think something or someone should be or should’ve been. Real problems get dealt with by their matter of importance one moment at a time. Not all at once, but step by step. So don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by things that don’t really need your attention and focus solely on the ones that need your attention. Writing them down helps you to sort them out and see them more clearly.
Lastly, and this is not a secret, but a reminder to go out with your friends and have fun. Laughter is the best medicine and sharing your life with a friend is the best therapy. Life is too short to be wasting it worrying about things we have no control over. There are plenty of things that we do have control over and that is where our power lies, our power is in the present moment. Grasp it, live it, love it and you will find calm peace and eternal joy.
(Image taken from News.VA Official Vatican Network)
Pope Francis on his second anniversary in March 2015, declared a jubilee year of Mercy to be interpreted as a powerful signal of his commitment to reforming the Church. Holy Years, or Jubilees, are normally held every 25 years. He intended to call this extraordinary Holy Year to focus on the Church’s mission, “to be a witness of mercy in the world.” It is no coincidence that Pope Francis decided to announce this Holy Year at a ceremony dedicated to confession, the sacrament of forgiveness and mercy. Pope Francis January 11th, 2015
“There is so much need of mercy today, and it is important that the lay faithful live it and bring it into different social environments. Go forth! We are living in the age of mercy, this is the age of mercy.”
It is also no coincidence that he is making it official today, the day before Divine Mercy Sunday. The jubilee year will begin on December 8 and run until November 20, 2016. December 8 is one of the holiest dates in the Catholic calendar as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and is also the date on which the Vatican II Council closed in 1965. Cardinal Kasper says,
the Holy Year is a “genial initiative and a prophetic voice” because mercy “corresponds to the signs of the times today”. God’s mercy, he says, is central to the message of Jesus himself so the Pope is placing it at the centre of our discussions, reflections and prayer for this coming year so that we can recognize “the real face of God” which is often misunderstood as a punishing, insidious, even violent God. Secondly, the cardinal says, we are all sinners and need to be merciful to our neighbours and learn how to apologise for our failures…
DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY
In the year 2000, at the canonization of St. Faustina, Pope John Paul II established Divine Mercy Sunday on the second Sunday of Easter. He stated, “it as the answer to the world’s problems and the message for the third millennium.” He also said this day is the happiest day of my life. It is no wonder that he died on the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday.
The messages that Jesus gave to St. Faustina to write in her diary is not new to the teachings of the Catholic Church. They just focus strongly on the mercy of Christ to the Church and his followers. We continue to turn to her for intercession and to remember the messages given to her. This feast is not only a day in particular for worshipping God in His mystery of mercy, but also a time of grace for all people. The Lord Jesus said: “I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls and especially for poor sinners” (Diary,699). “Souls perish in spite of My bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation, that is, recourse to My Mercy. If they do not adore My mercy, they will perish for all eternity” (cf. Diary, 965, 998).
The greatness of this feast will be measured by the measure of extraordinary promises that the Lord attached to this feast: Jesus said “…. Whoever approached the Fount of Life on this day will be granted complete remission of sins and punishment” (Diary, 300), and also, “On this day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My Mercy.…… Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet” (Diary,699).
Jesus requested to St. Faustina, in 1931, His will regarding the painting of the Image and a Divine Mercy Devotion: “I desire that there be a Feast of Mercy. I want this image, which you will paint with a brush, to be solemnly blessed on the first Sunday after Easter; that Sunday is to be the Feast of Mercy” (Diary, 49).
All of St. Faustina’s messages from Jesus in her diary are approved and supported by the Catholic Church. In 2002, the Pope entrusted the whole world to Divine Mercy. He consecrated the International Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki, a suburb of Krakow in Poland where St. Faustina’s mortal remains are entombed.
Learning about St. Faustina http://www.marypages.com/FaustinaEng.htm
Hopefully, your Church will have a celebration dedicated to Divine Mercy Sunday that you can attend. The services are usually at the 3pm hour the hours considered to be Jesus’ death. There is a plenary indulgence offered to all who attend. You can learn the details to obtain one here http://www.divinemercysunday.com/plenary_indulgence.htm
Definition of a plenary indulgence:
A partial indulgence removes part of the temporal punishment due for sins. A plenary indulgence removes all of it. This punishment may come either in this life, in the form of various sufferings or in the next life, in purgatory.
It was December 2003 I was on my way to Medjugorje in Bosnia for the first time. I opened my carry-on bag looking for something to read and found this mysterious Catholic newspaper called the “Sunday Visitor.” I do not know where this came from, but knowing I had A 7-hour flight ahead of me I opened the paper and started to read. It had a full interview with Jim Caviezel and his role in the Passion of Christ that took up most of the newspaper. Now keep in mind this movie has not been released yet, so I had no idea who Jim Caviezel was or anything about the movie. By the time I had finished this article I felt strangely connected to Jim Caviezel in a way, I could not explain. Once we arrived in Medjugorje, we went to see Fr. Jozo at his parish and as I exited the gift shop guess who was standing right in front of me? Jim Caviezel and his wife I know strange right? What are the chances of that happening? It seemed like Mary had prepared me for this encounter with Jim and the upcoming movie by this article ending up in my bag. I’ve heard it said many times that she calls people to Medjugorje, she prepares them for the pilgrimage and takes care of every detail along the way. I have found this to be true for the two times I have been there. Jim was extremely handsome in person, and I made conversation with him and then asked him for a picture and he graciously accepted.
Jim Caviezel, Karyn Michelle Fusco, baby Luke Fusco, Jim’s wife and me before going blonde lol.
He invited us to a private screening of the movie with a special message for us in Medjugorje from Mel Gibson at the orphanage in two days. In the meantime, we climbed Apparition Hill. When I reached the top and saw the special statue of Mary, I felt oddly empty as though this was not what I was meant to encounter here. It was weird. I watched all the people taking pictures and heard the story behind the statue and for some reason nothing was resonating with me. I found myself being pulled away as though an invisible person was leading me to another location on the hill or a magnet was pulling me. I ended up in front of this wooden statue of Jesus on the cross. An artist beautifully carved it then donated it to this site. It wasn’t far from the Mary statue. At the moment my eyes saw Jesus I felt in awe and as though he were truly present to me alive on that cross. Then as though someone had their hand on the back of my head I felt my head pushed until my face was at Jesus feet. My head was held there until I kissed His feet, which I was happy to do. Then I dropped to the ground in love and admiration. I also felt like strange things were happening inside of my heart. I have no idea how long I had been there and when I stood up, I was surprised that no one came to be near this beautiful statue too and that I was granted so much alone time with Jesus. I know, my experience sounds crazy, and I completely understand why you may think it is. If it didn’t happen to me, I might think so too. However, it did happen to me, and this experience was something that I will never forget. As a matter of fact, I have pondered the meaning behind embracing and kissing Jesus’ feet since this experience and can you believe after all these years of pondering I just received the answer this past Monday, the day after Easter? But before I get to that I want to take you back to my time in Medjugorje and the viewing of this unedited movie “The Passion” the day after my experience. There were scenes we saw that were later cut out and Jim had the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen they were piercing. However, the scene that almost brought me to my feet and gasping out loud was the scene where the blessed mother kisses the feet of Jesus on the cross and stepped back to stare at her beloved son with blood all over her face. I felt at that moment as though she wanted me to know this scene had something to do with me and my experience the day before and was a connection to her and her son. Now, getting to my answer on Monday the day after Easter, I read this most powerful Gospel passage in Matthew 28:8-9.
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news to his disciples.And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
(Image: Tissot, “Noli me tangere.”)
Mary Magdalene did the same thing so what does this mean? I wondered the same thing then found this reflection by Ronald Rolheiser.
Embracing someone’s feet was, at the time of Jesus, a symbolic image for discipleship. The idea was that the disciple was meant to embrace the feet of the master by sitting at his feet and walking in his footsteps. In essence, the idea was that the feet of the master laid out the road to be followed, and he gestures of embracing the master’s feet and walking in his steps designated a certain acquiescence of the will, an obedience to someone and something higher than oneself.
But, prior to Jesus, this normally implied a relationship of non-equals, a master and a disciple, a teacher and a pupil. There was obedience, but not necessarily friendship and intimacy. What changes with Jesus is that the embrace now becomes one of intimacy. One now falls at the feet of Jesus akin to how one falls in love. In love, we embrace each other’s feet; the acquiescence is not a bending to power but a genuflection in love. Jesus had tried to instill into his followers this shift in obedience: “I no longer call you servants, but friends.” The God that Jesus incarnated is not a God who demands obedience on the basis of power and fear. This God, rather, invited us to acquiescence in love. Genuine intimacy is nothing other than a mutual genuflection in love. That is also the essence of discipleship. Jesus’ early disciples already knew that and, hence, upon meeting him on Easter morning, they give him the deepest, most robust, intimate hug of all: they embraced his feet.
I find this reflection to be true, because if I think back to my experience on Apparition Hill I recall the feeling of being consumed to overflowing with love for Jesus that superseded thought or any other emotion. And I am grateful; that His mother, Mary, showed me that she experienced the same at the foot of the cross. She, like me, and you are disciples of her son expressing our love.
This is what happens when you not only take the time to listen to God, but are obedient and trusting to what he tells you. Wow! God can take you places beyond your dreams. Check out Joanna Gaines and start your day with inspiration.
As I reported today in my Triduum, reblog I was fortunate to be present for Cardinal Dolan, and Fr. James Martin SJ three-hour reflection and hymns at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. I posted to Facebook the link to watch it live streamed, but for those of you who could not, or did not get it, I offer this summary for Holy Saturday’s reflection. Fr. James Martin SJ is America magazine’s editor at large, author of Jesus, a Pilgrimage, and spiritual Chaplain to Stephen Colbert. As I looked at a packed Cathedral, I felt the overwhelming presence of LOVE from people desiring a deeper relationship with Him.
It’s hard to see Fr. James behind the scaffolding at the Cathedral, which kept reminding me of the scene in Jesus Christ Superstar. He gave a beautiful three hours’ reflection on the passion and death of Jesus Christ which I have summarized below. Cardinal Dolan on the left was very meditative on every word from Fr. James.
The First Word
‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.’
Forgiveness has to do with recognizing that people are so much more than the worst things they’ve ever done in their lives. Fr. James gave two personal example of people he knows that have seriously wounded or were wounded by another and still forgave and their actions changed lives. To forgive you must look past people’s faults as Jesus did to the thief on the cross next to him. He didn’t look at his sins but on the man behind the sin. He looked past his crimes into the person he encountered on the cross and forgave him. He teaches us from the cross to do the same. If your pain prevents you from forgiving, but you desire to forgive, God will work with that desire and give you the Grace you need to move forward and in time forgiveness will come.
THE SECOND WORD
‘Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.’
We often doubt if God’s promise of an afterlife is true especially, when we are looking at death. St. Theresa, the little flower, doubted God’s promise too, when facing death and is quoted as saying to a sister, “If you only knew what darkness I am plunged into.” We all doubt and wonder what awaits us when we die. Will we be rewarded or punished and what about our loved ones will we ever see them again? On the cross, Jesus promises the afterlife and Jesus are not a liar. Interesting how at the last hours of His death, His name is used by a sinner. Jesus is the man who can open paradise for us and His words to the thief brought healing to him and points to the future spiritual healing planned for each of us.
To encounter Jesus means to encounter the reign of God. God is always in a loving relationship with us, and He reveals this love in personal encounters such as the birth of a child, loving compassion of a friend, nature, hymns, etc. This relationship is so important why would God every destroy it? He wouldn’t, not even death can destroy the love that God has for us. That is why in death he takes us even closer to Him when we die by bringing us to PARADISE.
THE THIRD WORD
‘Woman, behold, your son.’ ‘Son, behold, your mother.’
Jesus waited to start His public ministry not just because this of the legal age requirements, but because He wanted to ensure His mother was going to be cared for. It is presumed from the scriptures that Joseph has been dead awhile and at the cross Jesus is again, concerned about His mother’s well-being. He gives her to John for him to care for her the rest of her life. When we pray to Mary, we should remember that she is not only the Queen of heaven and mother of God, but Miriam. A woman from Nazareth that knows confusion, heartache, loss, etc., and she knows each of us now and at the hour of our death.
THE FOURTH WORD
‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’
These words are from Psalm 22, which has to do with rejoicing and not abandonment, but the expression of Hope in God. It reflects the idea that God did not hide His face from Jesus but heard his cry. Another interpretation might be that He did feel spiritually abandoned. Judas, His friend, betrayed Him and all of the apostles minus one fled. When we go through troubled times, we often feel abandoned by God too. We still have faith and believe that God loves us, but we sometimes feel empty, dark and far away from the presence of God as we have known Him before. Blessed Mother Teresa knows this well. She has confessed that she felt pain and empty from the loss of God and tormented with thoughts that He did not want her or that He even existed. She felt this way for 50 years and continued to serve powerfully and love Him by faith.
THE FIFTH WORD
Shows Jesus humanity, His physical condition of being thirsty and dehydrated. His humanity puts Him in touch with our humanity and remembering women and children who have no clean water to drink and have to travel miles to get any water at all. Many are violently raped or murdered along the way, and so we pray for that to change.
THE SIXTH WORD
‘It is finished.’
Is about His surrender and it is every more powerful if he didn’t fully understand and was surprised at Easter when he awakened to full clarity and knowledge. We are to surrender all of ourselves to God’s plan too.
THE SEVENTH WORD
‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’
Jesus gives Himself entirely to the Father, and we are to do the same by living out the commandments and by living a Christian life. Hold nothing back from God including grudges, sinful habits, the need for power, status, and material possessions. We have a tendency to say, God I will give you anything you want, but not this. We are to give ourselves entirely to His Divine plan for us even when we are fearful as to what that plan might be. The more we give ourselves to God the more he multiplies our offering and creates new life from it. So we say, into your hands we commend our Spirit. HAPPY HOLY SATURDAY!
I’m on my way to New York to see Fr. James Martin SJ speak about the Seven Last Words of Christ and I didn’t want to leave you without a reflection today “Good Friday” so, I have reposted this reflection on the Triduum. You may very well be hearing from me later today for I am sure Fr. James will inspire me to write on his reflections of Jesus last words. Many Blessings to you! May today lead you closer to Jesus and your faith.
Originally posted on Dawn's Faith Connection:
The most central event of the liturgical year is the Easter Triduum (Latin, three days) celebrating the passion, death and resurrection of Christ. These sacred three days (Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) are a liturgical season in themselves and not strictly part of Lent. Holy Thursday we see many things taking place such as Jesus giving us the eternal gift of Himself in the Holy Eucharist. It’s through this eternal gift that Jesus is with us until the end of time. Pope Benedict XVI in his homily, Solemnity of Corpus Domini, 26 May 2005 says,
O that night, Jesus goes out and hands himself over to the betrayer, the destroyer, and in so doing, overcomes the night of evil. Only in this way is the gift of the Eucharist, instituted in the Upper Room, fulfilled; Jesus truly gives his Body and his Blood. Crossing over the threshold of…
View original 317 more words
Maundy Thursday popularly known as Holy Thursday and commemorates the last supper of Jesus and His washing of the disciples feet and giving them a new commandment. Maundy is a word derived from the Latin word for mandate or commandment and since Jesus commanded his followers to do this in John’s Gospel, is the reason we refer to this day as Maundy Thursday. At the feet washing, Jesus gives them the new commandment to “Love One Another as I Have Loved You.” Jesus shows in a symbolic way how to live this commandment by washing as a Rabbi His students feet. The feet at the time of Jesus were the dirtiest part of the human body. Even the servants did not wash the feet of guests in the master’s house. This task was beneath even them which is why, Peter at first refuses to let Jesus wash his feet. The symbolic gesture made by Jesus is so important that Jesus must clarify how important it is in which case Peter responds for him to wash as many parts of himself as he will.
Most Church’s have a mass called the Last Supper that starts around 7pm and marks the end of Lent and the beginning of the Triduum. During the service, they reenact the intimate moment Jesus had with His disciples by having the pastor or leaders of the Church wash the feet of those they serve. The Liturgy of the Last Supper also commemorates a second event which is the Institution of the Eucharist.
Another symbolism Jesus gives us has to do with His body and blood shed for us and to be repeatedly consumed at every mass in remembrance of Him. Only, after His resurrection this symbolism turns to real flesh and blood after the transubstantiation during mass. A miracle and gift provided for us to this very day two thousand years after His death. Also, on Maundy Thursday, after all, he readings depicting all that we are speaking of and at the end of the service the altar is stripped, made bare. The altar cloths are stripped; ornaments are removed and so is the Eucharist from the tabernacle. The Eucharist is moved to another location where we reenact the waiting of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane by waiting and watching at the relocated tabernacle until 11pm or midnight. Can we unlike the apostles stay away? Can we support Jesus during His agony? And so we wait, and these symbolisms prepare us to enter into the Triduum, which is the last three days of Holy Week before Easter.
If you can attend a Mass of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday at your local parish, you should make every effort. You will be pleasantly surprised by its positive effect on your spiritual journey.
I came across this powerful reflection on Judas that I have never heard before. I wanted to share it with all of you for a different perspective as well. It is by Fr. James Martin SJ
Why did Judas do it?
Today’s Gospel (Mt 26:14-25)
. . . . . .
A few years ago I served as a “theological adviser” to an Off-Broadway play, called “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” that put Judas on trial for Jesus’s death. We spent many hours sifting through the possible reasons for history’s most famous betrayal.
The Gospel of Mark gives no motivation for Judas’s sudden betrayal. Confusing things further, Matthew has Jesus telling Judas at the Last Supper, “Do what you are here to do,” which seems to imply some acquiescence, or at least foreknowledge, on Jesus’s part. Matthew attempts to clarify things in his account by introducing the motive of greed: “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” Judas asks the Jewish high priests.
The Gospel of John echoes this theme: before the Last Supper, Judas is depicted by the evangelist as the greedy keeper of the common purse. When Jesus is anointed in Bethany, shortly before his crucifixion, Judas complains, asking why the money was not given to the poor. In an aside, John writes, “He [Judas] said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.”
Thus, John paints Judas as greedy, and dishonest as well. Finally, Luke’s gospel tells us that at the Last Supper “Satan had entered into Judas.” Daniel J. Harrington, SJ, told me that this phrase from Luke explained “either everything or nothing.”
There is another hypothesis that sometimes remains unstated by commentators: the evangelists concocted the entire story of Judas’s betrayal for dramatic purposes. Some have posited that the one who betrayed Jesus could have come from outside the Twelve, and that Judas was simply a convenient fall guy. Similarly, Judas may have been invented as a generic “Jewish” character in order to lay the blame for the crucifixion of the Jewish people. The name “Judas” (the Hebrew would be Judah) lends credence to this idea. So might Paul, who suggests that Jesus was “handed over” not by Judas or anyone else but by God.
But a wholesale invention is unlikely. Mark wrote his gospel in 70 A.D., only a few decades after the death of Jesus. Luke and Matthew wrote some 10 to 15 years later. The Christian community of that time still would have counted among its members those who were friends of Jesus, who were eyewitnesses to the Passion, or who knew the sequence of events from conversations with the previous generation. They most likely would have criticized any wild liberties taken with the story. Rather, as Father Harrington told me, “Judas’s betrayal of Jesus was a known and most embarrassing fact.” The ignominy of having Jesus betrayed by one of his closest friends is something the Gospel writers would have wanted to avoid, not invent.
Overall, none of the Gospels provides a convincing reason for why one of the 12 disciples would betray the teacher he esteemed so highly. Greed fails as an explanation—why would someone who had traveled with the penniless rabbi for three years suddenly be consumed with greed? (Unless he was indeed stealing from the common purse.)
William Barclay conjectured that the most compelling explanation is that by handing Jesus over to the Romans, Judas was trying to force Jesus’s hand, to get him to act in a decisive way. Perhaps Judas expected the arrest to prompt Jesus to reveal himself as the long-awaited Messiah by not only ushering in an era of peace, but overthrowing the Roman occupiers. Barclay noted that none of the other traditional explanations (greed, disillusionment, jealousy) explained why Judas would have been so shattered after the crucifixion that the Gospel of Matthew has him committing suicide; only if Judas had expected a measure of good to come from his actions would suicide make any sense. “This is in fact the view which best suits all the facts,” Barclay concluded.
Finally, there is an explanation at once simple and complex: sin. Why do we do what we know is wrong? It is an inexplicable mystery. Perhaps Judas’s reasons for betrayal were obscure even to himself.
A Franciscan friend, Diane Menditto, OFS shared a holy tradition passed down from her mother’s family. I liked the tradition so much that I wanted to share it with all of you. On Holy Saturday at 12 noon visit each room of your house and open the window
“Lord Jesus Christ, remove from this house
And my heart all anger and bitterness.
Cast out all evil through this open window,
And come into my home as a most welcome guest.
Fill this house and my heart with
The fresh air of your love and
The healing power of your Resurrection.
Remember, also, those who have gone
Before us in faith, especially _____,
That they may rejoice with you
In Paradise this Easter.”
REPEAT THE PROCESS IN EVERY ROOM OF THE HOUSE. Thank you, Diane, for passing on such a lovely tradition with all of us. If any of you have traditions you would like to share, please do.
Have a Happy and Blessed Holy Week! DAWN