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In the great constellation of saints and Fathers and Doctors of the Church, there is so much beauty, glory and wonder that it cannot all be taken in. Their insights, inspired by Heaven, into the deep mysteries and truths of the universe always make you stop dead in your tracks. They hit like a lightning bolt.
Take, for example, the words of St. Alphonsus Ligouri. The words are a dire warning to us.
He says we should never forget that at this very moment, there are people in Hell who were at one time on earth holier than we are now. Then he brings down the hammer. He says, "Remember, Judas raised people from the dead."
Contemplate that frightening thought for just a moment. In Matthew's Gospel, Our Blessed Lord sends the Apostles out and says, "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons." The man who would later follow the prompting of the demons and Satan spent some of his time here on earth actually casting them out.
Imagine the horrific scene that would have awaited Judas at the hands of those same demons as he descended into Hell. Judas performed miracles; all the Apostles did. They raised the dead. Judas Iscariot raised the dead. And now he is in Hell.
This is the warning from St. Alphonsus, the terrifying insight into the world of spiritual warfare. No one is safe until they are safe. No one.
How horrifying to consider that a priest, for example, hands anointed at ordination to consecrate and bring God down from Heaven, could be for eternity burning with an intensity beyond any words to describe it. That’s exactly what St. Teresa of Avila saw when she was shown Hell. She could tell which souls were priests because the palms of their hands where the anointing had happened at their ordinations were burning with a far greater intensity than all the other damned.
How was it that Judas on one day was performing miracles and on another setting the wheels in motion that brought about the death of Our Lord? Because he did not remain faithful each day. We know he was a thief. Did he arrive at the beginning of his calling as a thief? We don't know. But we know he ended up one, that he was one. Somewhere along the line, for the first time, he saw the money bag that the Apostles had, that he was in charge of, and stole some.
It probably wasn't very much at first. In fact, it probably wasn't ever very much. It's not like Our Lord and the Apostles wandered around with sacks of money. But what did happen was that he developed the habit of sin, the little-by-little incremental sin. He indulged in his sin and became accustomed to it. So the more often he stole, the less he thought about the actual sin.
He set himself up for the big fall. And when the time came, so accustomed had he become, so habitual, that 30 pieces of silver was too much for his habit to ignore — the Apostle who raised people from the dead but went to Hell in the end.
Is there any more sad, disturbing and cautionary account in all of Scripture?