I woke up this morning to the story of a man who shot and killed two people on live TV and then uploaded the killing to YouTube. I think that the saddest part about hearing that story first thing thing this morning is that it didn’t shock me. I am no longer shocked at the things happening in this world or this country or my town or even my house. The moment that I saw satanists say they don’t believe in satan as a deity but rather as the spirit of human nature and freedom, I just stopped being shocked about anything. True story.
While we can see evil out in the open when it comes to giant demon statues and abortion, we shouldn’t get so cocky and think that evil isn’t in our own circles. Some people seem to think that my favorite thing to do is condemn other Catholics because I’m bored or somehow think that I’m the taxpayer who is bragging about how I’m not a pharisee. Ok, everyone is entitled to their opinion but the truth is that I see a lot of people being fooled by evil in my own circles and I think that people who know Christ and fall are going to pay a much bigger price than people, who by no fault of their own, don’t know any better.
What made Judas’ betrayal the worst betrayal? Jesus was taunted by the Pharisees and by plenty of people, the soldiers mocked Him and yet the only person who He said it would have been better if he had not been born was Judas. Why? Because of all those other people, Judas was one of His followers. Judas had a relationship with Jesus and stole money from Him and betrayed Him anyway. I think of the words of Jesus “it would have been better if he had never been born” as a warning that if you are close to Jesus and you turn your back on Him, you will pay much more than those who don’t know any better.
Why did Judas betray Jesus? I asked myself this every year during Lent because I feel if I know Judas, then I will recognize him in myself. I know that I am a sinner, that I have pet sins and that I am not better than anyone else even when I’m tempted to think that I am. I’m not even better than Judas. I know this about myself because I sit in a confession line on a regular basis and a perfect sinless person would not need to do that.
Judas betrayed Jesus to be comfortable. He began resenting the idea of having to suffer as a follower of Christ. He resented being poor and not having money. He resented how Jesus ministered to sinners and he resented not being one of Jesus’ favorites. He felt that he was entitled to a certain level of the good life by following the Son of Man. He didn’t have the faith that Peter had or the love for Jesus that James had or the ability to care of the poor that other Apostles had. Or the humility to be one of the Apostles who just stayed in the background. No, Judas wanted money, popularity and an easy road in life. He didn’t want his discipleship to cost him anything.
When I look at American Christians I see this obsession with comfort as well. We want religious freedom so that we can be guaranteed that we will not lose anything if we follow Jesus. We want people to be forced by law to deal with us and our choice to be a Christian and live our lives of conviction without having to face persecution or hardship for it. We want to refuse to bake cakes for gay weddings but we don’t want people to sue us or to put our bakeries out of business with boycotts. BUT we sure do want to boycott the crap out of Starbucks! I am not pointing fingers at anyone because as I type this, I’m complaining to God about how me following what He asks of me is costing me my house because none of what I am doing is paying. It’s a lot of work for no pay. As I was vacuuming and complaining about how little money we have and how God doesn’t seem to be too concerned about where me and my kids are going to live because we are pretty close to being homeless while God seems to be MIA. It’s a real possibility at the moment and He has not opened the sky to let money rain down on us. My natural conclusion is that He must not care.
In the middle of my complaint against God and my argument of how much I deserve for all the sacrifices I make to follow God it occurred to me that Jesus didn’t save me from my sins in comfort. In fact, He was spit on, whipped, had his skin ripped off his body, had a crown of thorns on His head, was forced to carry His cross when He could barely walk and had nails put into His hands and feet and then hung on the Cross in the middle of the day and died in Agony. So why exactly do I feel entitled to follow Him in comfort? Why do I feel like I am above being persecuted for my faith? Jesus said that persecution would happen. He said “if you follow me, the world will hate you”, so exactly why do I think that any law will stop that from happening? Or that I even have a right to live as a Christian without suffering? Because I am obsessed with comfort. And there’s the Judas in me.