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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Judas Priest

Pax Christi of Illinois’ recently held up Judas as an example of how we should treat our Catholic pro-abort politicians. They point out that Jesus permitted Judas to share in the Eucharist. They further insisted that Jesus hated violence and was essentially non-judgmental. We should take a lesson from Him as we contemplate the heart and soul of our Faith. In a certain sense, I couldn't agree more.

The Eucharist is indeed the heart and soul of our Faith. That is why it must be guarded from those who would profane it. Meeting Christ in the Eucharist is not only a medicinal encounter that heals venial sin, it is also immediate participation in the Last Judgment, when Christ comes not to invite, but to command. At the Last Judgment, “every knee shall bow, every tongue proclaim, that Jesus Christ is Lord.” (Phillipians 2:10). That is why reception of Eucharist on bended knee, accompanied by a loud “Amen” is always appropriate liturgical practice.

Jesus always emphasized judgement. His wedding feast parables describe the people who were cast out, into the darkness, there to wail and gnash their teeth, or guests who did not prepare themselves to come and were therefore killed and their city burnt to the ground (Matthew 22, 25).

Judas’ example is a fine case in point. He ate and drank of the Eucharist unworthily. He had already decided to betray Jesus (John 13:2), but he partook of Eucharist despite his mortal sin. “And after the morsel, Satan entered into him. And Jesus said to him: That which thou dost, do quickly… He therefore, having received the morsel, went out immediately. And it was night.” (John 13:27, 30) Notice the tremendous emphasis John puts on Judas having “received the morsel” in conjunction with Judas’ sin. In short, Judas’ unworthy reception of Eucharist increased his desire to betray Christ and thereby increased his condemnation.

This is the peace of Christ:
 Christ in the Temple with a bullwhip, scourging the moneychangers out of the courtyard for having profaned the holy place (John 2:13-17),
 Christ exhorting His disciples with the words, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's enemies will be those of his household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:34-38),
 Christ refusing to tell the centurion that he must give up soldiering (Matthew 8, Luke 7),
Christ telling the apostles at the Last Supper, “"But now one who has a money bag should take it, and likewise a sack, and one who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one.” (Luke 22:36),
 The Holy Spirit choosing a soldier to be the first non-Jew admitted to the Faith (Acts 10).

It is not for nothing that we are the Church Militant. The fact that it would never occur to a few of the members of Pax Christi to exclude anyone from the Eucharist just goes to demonstrate how badly formed some members of Pax Christi are. If we followed “the Pax Christi formula” to its logical conclusion, we would have no basis upon which to deny Eucharist to anyone – Evangelical, fundamentlist, Buddhist, Wiccan, etc. Christ, on the other hand, was perfectly willing to exclude even the apostles from this fellowship (John 6:67), and the whole history of the Church demonstrates that excommunication is a perfectly appropriate response to heresy and sin.

Indeed, the very liturgy of the Feast of Corpus Christi tells us this in the prologue to the Gospel reading:

Bad and good the feast are sharing,
Of what divers dooms preparing,
Endless death, or endless life.

Life to these, to those damnation,
See how like participation
Is with unlike issues rife.

All may be brothers at the table, but according to the Scriptures, the Magisterium and the liturgy, some are eating and drinking damnation on themselves precisely because they refuse to admit that war can be just, that the death penalty is sometimes appropriate, that abortion is always and everywhere evil. Wherever a man knowingly refuses to accept Jesus’ teaching but still insists on accepting Jesus on his tongue, he “eats and drinks judgement on himself. That is why many of you are sick and some have died.” (1 Corinthians 11:29-30).

That is why excommunication is an act of charity, as Paul points out when he excommunicated a man committing sexual sin, “You are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 5:5). If you lack charity, if you are willing to allow men and women to eat and drink their own damnation, then by all means, let pro-abortion Catholics approach the Eucharist. But if you care even the slightest for their salvation, then you will prevent them from tasting the bread of angels, lest their hearts grow as cold as Judas’ and they enter into darkness forever.

Telling John Kerry not to approach Eucharist lest he be damned is no more threatening or coercive than telling Bill Clinton not to approach a McDonald’s, lest he grow even more obese. It isn’t a threat. It’s a simple statement of fact. Let us pray that the ill-informed members of Pax Christi learn their Faith well enough to distinguish fact from fiction.

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