As we reflect more and more upon Divine Revelation, we will often stumble upon something that shatters our limited perceptions. The tendency with such dilemmas is to try and explain away the difficulty, desperately seeking to solve the mystery in a way that allows us to go back to our regularly scheduled lives. Although there are many dogmas and doctrines that help us to enter into the mystery, theology is not about putting God into nice, neat little packages. Rather, theology opens us to the action of grace by allowing us to enter into the seeing of Jesus Christ.
One such difficulty that I encountered is that of Judas. It seems difficult to understand that someone who was chosen by Jesus and saw the miracles he performed would betray him. Furthermore, the Gospel of John suggests that Jesus had foreknowledge that Judas would betray him (John 6:71-72). This might be speculation on my part, but I believe that there were probably many indicators that Judas was going against Jesus and his message. Perhaps Judas had even been a scandal. The mystery is that Jesus allowed Judas to be among his cherished Apostles.
Judas is a difficulty because he is not simply an anomaly from the past. I cannot speak for everyone, but in my experience I have encountered many people within the Church who seem to share many of Judas’ characteristics. Such people take on a variety shapes and sizes, but it seems so often that there are people within the Church who work against the good news of faith, hope, and love. Instead of sowing good seed, they seem to sow weeds that choke our communities.
Many times, our first response is a new program or a persuasive presentation to help people to see their mistaken points of view. These are not necessarily bad approaches. However, I do not think that the main answer lies within our limited activity. Instead, I think the primary response to the question of evil is to open our vision and allow ourselves participate in the boundless vision of Christ. Thus the answer is not so much about us doing, but rather learning to be receptive to the Holy Spirit. This teaches us to recognize that the reality of the Church is a mystery that goes beyond our abilities to understand. We are able to have a transformative effect on both our local communities and the Universal Church when we let go of our attachments and allow the Spirit to work within us.
Does that mean that we should abandon our programs of development in favor of a spontaneous Church that responds only to the Spirit? Absolutely not. What I would argue is that all of our activity should be grounded in and flow from the freedom offered through Jesus Christ. When we find a Judas within the Church, we should address the situation and seek to remedy the problem. However, instead of losing our peace, we should approach the situation with the same inner freedom with which Christ lived.
This means that instead of our activity being a frenetic attempt to achieve ideals, it becomes the fruit of an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. We experience the freedom of Christ when we are no longer shackled by the anxiety, fear, and attachments that are the effects of sin. Our works are then able to bear fruit because they are open to Spirit. We should keep in mind that such freedom does not mean that we will not suffer. Rather, it means that we will discover the riches of communion in the midst of our sufferings.
Thus the foundation is always prayer. Prayer must be our constant activity because it is the means by which we are purified of our limited perspectives. Prayer allows us to enter into the eternal exchange of the Trinity, and it teaches us to be sensitive to the Spirit. Let us always remain committed to prayer, always seeking to persevere in the midst of struggles and temptations.