Religion

Judas’s Night

Beka Mindiashvili
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As soon as Judas had taken the bread,
he went out. And it was night.
John. 13:30

1. 

During the Divine Liturgy, by taking bread and wine, we Orthodox Christians are taking communion with the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. However, according to the teachings of the Church, if a person nurtures hatred of someone, is in conflict with a neighbor, or has angered or offended someone and has not sincerely asked for repentance, the Eucharistic meeting with Christ may turn into a communion with Judas because reconciliation with God is impossible without the reconciliation with our fellow human beings. This New Testament understanding of communion between God and human beings is still alive in the liturgical tradition: before receiving the Eucharist, believers ask forgiveness from one another and say such a prayer: "Son of God, accept me today as a communicant; for I will not speak of Thy Mystery to Thine enemies, neither like Judas will I give Thee a kiss; but like the thief will I confess Thee: Remember me, O Lord in Thy Kingdom."

According to the teachings of the Church, not only persecution, oppression, violence and swearing, but also unfair treatment, the mere angering of someone, mockery and ostracism, detaches our flesh and blood from the flesh and blood of Christ and freezes us in the flesh and blood of Judas, in the kiss of Judas. It is those who betray human nature and nourish themselves by blood, war, discrimination, oppression, and intolerance that become the followers of Judas, killers of their own selves, heartless creatures.

In that specific moment, in that state when we hate those who are different, we betray not only Christ but ourselves too. Each act of intolerance is a desire to encroach on the life, freedom and diversity granted by God, but, at the same time, is a death sentence delivered onto one's own self, it is an act of erasing yourself, your name, from the diverse universe.

2.

We must understand full well that until we, who claim to be Orthodox Christians, fail to value and love anyone who differs from us, on whatever grounds, and fail to recognize their freedom to be whatever they want to be, it will be impossible for us to be called true Christians. An intolerant Orthodox Christian becomes a member of the order of self-killers, of the sect of Judas, and a revealer of Christ's secret. Because of his arrogant understanding, such a person can betray and sacrifice anyone not fitting into the picture of his/her uniform universe.

The organization called the Georgian Patriarchate is currently involved in the mortal sin of the hatred of humankind: its body is being gnawed away by such hellish passions as the aggrandizement of Stalin and Putin; the unacceptability of anything different – Catholic, Armenian, Muslim, Krishnaite, Baptist, Jehovah's Witness, liberal, atheist, female, homosexual, European, Asian, poor – and displays sadistic, irrational, absurd, and unfounded hatred towards them. Hatred for hatred's sake. As a result of its failure to repent these sins, the Church hierarchs are in open conflict with Christ. Its religious servants overtly sow hatred, justify violence and themselves apply violence, swear and even boastfully declare that they thirst "for blood," thirst for putting an end to "modest" Christianity.

Luca Giordano
Everything started with the fact that Judas Iscariot found Christ failing to fit his understandings of a messiah. Christ failed to meet Judas's standards for the glory of his nation and his religion, for power, wealth and success. Judas had his own vision, a sort of project concerning how his nation and religion would dominate the world. Jesus, however, disillusioned him, disappointed him. Instead of seeing a future king in the face of Christ, one who would enter Jerusalem in triumph, the person who suddenly appeared before Judas appeared as a weak, helpless, incapable, moneyless, ordinary liar who had no ambition to be either a king or a religious leader, nor did he appear to have the ability to be a commander in chief. Jesus appeared to Judas as a person who was doomed to inevitable failure.

Jesus from Nazareth turned out to be very humble, one who offered His disciples nothing more than a morsel of bread and a bowl of wine. The worst thing, however, was that He stooped to doing such things that were uncomely and unforgivable for a king, a leader and a real man. He, for instance, washed the feet of Peter – a shaggy, ignorant person who reeked of fish, whilst telling His amazed disciples that, in future, their entire duty, their mission for mankind, would also be washing the feet of others. Seeing this stupid preacher and his disciples, pragmatic Judas was struck with shock – instead of being offered the position of, for example, finance minister in the future empire of the messiah, he was assigned the unimaginably humiliating role of serving as a feet washer.

Like Judas, the Patriarchate is also driven into shock by imagining a poor, forceless and powerless Church; it is driven into shock by the biblical mission of rendering a social service to people; it is driven into shock, for example, by seeing an episcope traveling by bus, on the metro or walking in the streets, talking in a friendly manner with prostitutes, sectarians, liberals or, God forbid, homosexuals. This is unacceptable. This is appalling. This is blasphemy. Had it not been so, the festive ceremony of feet washing and forgiveness, held on each Maundy Thursday, would not have turned into a formal, meaningless ritual during which the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, once a year, himself washes the feet of priests and kneels in front of his congregation pretending to ask for forgiveness. All of this is performed despite the fact that, in reality, the Patriarch made dominance over everything, retaliation, wealth and luxury the real aim of existence. But why is this still so formal? The Patriarch has turned this most Christian ritual into a real and articulate symbol of a husband's dominance over his wife and of the oppression of women in Georgia, because, according to him, it is the duty of a good wife to wash her husband's feet.

Nevertheless, like Judas, our hierarchs also proved to have the talent and ability to enchant and befuddle people. To persuade them that they need money and luxury only for a sacred cause, for assisting the poor and making divine contributions. The belief of the majority of the population that the Patriarchate – with its wealth without labor, millions of lari transferred from the state budget, various foundations and deep pockets – diligently cares for the welfare of the nation has been unshakable for years.

3.

Judas Iscariot was the one who failed to understand why Christ was concerned with lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors, sinners and ostracized people. He could not understand why Christ made fishermen His disciples when, in reality, a future emperor must surely be caring night and day about a great mission, about the heights of power and glory by purchasing arms, raising an army, and handling the reins of administration.

Like Judas, the current "saviors" of Georgia – these modern messianists – have palmed off their anti-Christian understanding of the purpose of the state and nation as Christianity. Instead of saving the soul of a specific individual, even of a mortal sinner, they have set the goal of establishing an Orthodox state. Under this cover they have taken a course towards Russia. Like Judas, our saintly hierarchs believe not in humanity, personalities or human dignity, but in slavery for the state and the Church – a form of preaching that they have drawn up themselves. They believe that a human being exists in two modes alone – as a subordinate to the state and as a member of the congregation of the Church. They not only disbelieve in the notion of independent citizens equipped with rights and freedoms, but, as a rule, view such free citizens as the source of a myriad of misfortunes. Those who do not fit into the "sacred" reality constructed by the Patriarchate – those who do not revere the Patriarch and that punitive, racist, chauvinist, homophobic, xenophobic and ruthless deity invented by the clergy, and those who do not share their Putinesque ideology – are declared enemies of the Georgian nation and Orthodox Christianity.

One may not exclude that the clergy are sincere in their fanatical worship of this distorted image of Orthodoxy that they have invented for themselves, of that rational construction in which they see people as only cannon fodder or as a mob, a congregation, an army, a flock of sheep – something that leaders and priests can manipulate and lead towards their great aim. However, it is impossible that they are capable of loving specific human beings, for example, Adam and Eve. With such an understanding of their "congregation," upon whom they expect slavish obedience as the key condition for their salvation, they betray their trust in the Creator. God, according to the Bible, did not create a congregation, masses of people, nations, collectives, or classes, but did create Adam and Eve and allowed them to freely choose their own path. What is even more impossible is that they trust the crucified Christ, who was offended, persecuted, whipped, dishonored and crucified by a mob, the state, empire, and synod because of a concrete sin of Adam and Eve.

Giotto
Our hierarchs may even sincerely believe (because of their ignorance) that, for example, the Eurasian Union will save the Georgian nation from "queers," because Putin is a powerful Orthodox macho who incessantly fights against gays, perverts, infidels, aliens and liberals. They are so ignorant that they may even candidly believe that there exist conspiracies from "Conchitas", Jehovah's Witnesses, Masons, or the Jews. In short, anti-Christian global forces that act against the Orthodox empire, the Third Rome, the Kremlin, real men, white people, bears, wolves and ravens. They may really believe that Putin, together with the multi-billionaire Chekist and large tobacco supplier Patriarch Kirill, is preventing the Beast coming from Brussels; that they are thus defending us from losing our national identity. However, it is impossible that, at the same time, they are capable of having faith in the crucifixion of Jesus, which is the manifestation of the almightiness of God.

They may naively believe in the soteriological nature of monarchy and the necessity to indicate Georgian origin on one's ID; they may believe that the registration of religious associations or the antidiscrimination law will corrupt the nation; they may naively believe that ID cards bear the sign of the Beast, that through sprinkles of perfume the Devil penetrates into our souls and that God abhors women wearing trousers and men clad in shorts. However, in parallel with all that, they are incapable of believing that Sabbath was created for us and not that we were created for Sabbath, that a human being is a free son/daughter of God and not a slave of the priests.

In reality, if we observe attentively we will discover that, as was the case of Judas, the object of their genuine faith lies not with these fascist ideas and a myriad of prejudices, but is more materialistic. It is dictated by hoovers, iPhones, blenders, laptops, furniture carved from chestnut trees, dishwashers, meat grinders, aquariums, 5,000 lari of congratulations cards, luxurious residences and gilt domes – all acquired at the expense of multi-million lari financing from the state budget that has the aim of "strengthening Orthodox Christianity" and enhancing "spirituality."

But, if we explore deeper we will find out that, like Judas, they do not believe that God is omnipresent and belongs to everyone, that He is almighty and universal. Reveling in their power, luxury, and in their sense of extraordinariness and importance, securely surrounded by those sacred accessories and comfort, they believe not in the heart of Jesus, in the courage of the repentant or in the matter of salvation of the nation, Church and the entire world, but only in their own arrogant selves.

Our hierarchs deeply believe that their spiritual trips to Amsterdam and Moscow, their sacred blenders, iPhones, expensive watches and other accessories, are divine contributions. They are so frenziedly in love with those accessories, their jeeps having become the identity of the clergy, that they cannot share these deities with others. Their divine emanations come in the form of serene, rhythmic nodding of their miter-clad heads and the relaxed waving of the dikirions and trikirions in their hands, whilst their only icons for prayer is their own faces in the mirror – but, of course, only when they are reflected in the mirrors of the most expensive hotels in Paris, Berlin or London.

It is, therefore, no wonder that our hierarchs hate the crucified Christ. It is not only impossible, but it is offensive for them to trust such a God who is not gazing at expensive furniture, but into the eyes of gays, stinky negroes, infidel Samaritans, syphilitic prostitutes, drug abusers, battered wives, hungry children and the elderly. It is impossible for them to believe in such a God who declares that He is in every person, be they a homosexual, a Samaritan, a Jehovah's Witness, a prostitute, or a criminal; whether they are Cameroonian, Chukchi, or Indonesian. How can they believe in such God who Himself is any such person, even when such people are persecuted or attacked, when their rights are breached, when they are humiliated, spat upon and tortured, or left without shelter and abandoned to famine. It is no wonder that in reality they loathe Christ, He who has compassion, as the only condition for salvation, for widows and orphans; the hungry and the cold; the imprisoned, persecuted, and humiliated. Such Orthodox Christian beliefs are, of course, truly offensive for them! How can, for example, a criminal tough guy hiding under the robes of a priest trust in a messiah with such an unmasculine understanding? This was exactly the question that Judas was asking.

4.

The theology of the Orthodox Church is based on the teaching of the non-perception of God, which is conveyed in its perfect form in the mystical theology of the holy Hieromartyr Dionysius the Areopagite. According to Dionysius, it is not of much value what we say about God. We may say that God exists, but we may also declare that he is not existent. We will not be lying in either case because whatever the existence of God and His qualities might represent is intangible for the human mind. Therefore, the most expressive word about God and truth is silence and kindness. This is what Orthodoxy, its theology and liturgical tradition, preaches. Truth is not a rational abstraction for it, but a concrete individual, the son/daughter of a human being and his/her love towards another human.

Therefore the path for the perception of truth lies in the relationship with a personal, embodied God, who emerges in a human being, not with reasoning and words, but when performing an act of kindness – just as the infidel centurion taking care of a slave and the compassionate sectarian Samaritan meet God on the pages of the Bible. Therefore the objective nature of truth is not the light of reasoning, but a source of darkness, the foundation of any type of totalitarian system, of any violence or oppression of personalities. The basis of such ideologies arose from pride – fascism, communism, and the current Orthodox ideology – a form of reactionary fundamentalism, political Orthodoxy that combines signs of both fascism and communism.

Therefore, everyone who, in the name of defending the truth, tries to restrict someone following a "wrong" ideology, to oppress someone for being of a different sexual orientation, or to deprive Muslims of their rights, commits the sin of Judas. For Orthodox Christians, such objective truth, as used to oppress someone, does not exist and the most effective form to counteract such problems are acts of kindness. However, for those Georgian defenders of Orthodox Christianity truth is still objective: truth it is something that Russian ideological instructions, neo-imperialism hidden under the cover of Orthodox Christianity, teach with the help of the Georgian clergy.

5.

The Bible says that after taking communion Judas Iscariot left the table and went outside. It was night outside. Surrounded by the night, everyone and everything becomes equal under the gaze of Judas. Like Judas, those who have stepped out into the night – the antichrists clad in religious vestments, the Orthodox Christian agents of Rome or the Synedrion, the KGB or FSB – all perceive the external world as a dark, uniform, grey mass. The mental and moral ruin in their awareness has put out the light of God in the world illuminated by Him.

Betrayal blunts the ability to perceive reality as it is – a unity of diverse, different, individual forms and experiences. People, objects, and events lose their clear essence, contours and colors. They are made whole and united only by darkness. In the perception of a traitor, everyone becomes equally unimportant, equally soulless and enveloped by darkness. The identity of an individual becomes devoid of any essence because, for a traitor or agent, such a person is only an object for surveillance, observation, influence and destruction.

The wider and deeper the darkness, the more confused everything grows. It becomes difficult to distinguish who is friend and who is foe; who is a disciple and who is a henchman; who arrives as a guest and who has come to steal from you; who holds the cross of Christ and who a stool; who is a priest and who is merely a little man in black who has brokered a contract with the empire for your liquidation. Darkness is a mask for human wickedness and, at the same time, a shadow cast on generosity.

Where the truth of diversity disappears, total uniformity, lies and hypocrisy reign. Fascist regimes and communist tyrannies are a result of this uniformity, this hypocrisy, this carnival of masks – the betrayal of God and humanity. It is such a carnivalesque darkness that envelopes Georgian political Orthodoxy today. It is the ideology of the betrayal of Christ, the Church, homeland, and humanity. Due to the betrayal of Christ, the gift to see, acknowledge, defend and appreciate different personalities and a different reality has disappeared.

6.

Judas, having gone out into the dark night, receives his reward for the betrayal and collects an armed regiment and leads it against Christ. Like Judas, the contemporary defenders of Orthodox Christianity, after taking communion, have gone out into the night for betrayal. They have received money, rallied their congregations, gathered retributive brigades, established committees of hatred and have rushed to attack and

Jean Bourdichon
persecute those people whom they deem unacceptable or different from them – for example, those who dress differently; have different hairstyles or shave differently; have a different religion; who think, sing, or dance differently; in general, any person in a minority. They go to a Muslim community and kick the mullah out of his house; undertake raids fueled by hate in villages populated with Catholics; assault youths gathered for Halloween; stage true pogroms on 17 May; and hold fascist rallies to demand the adoption of discriminatory laws. They justify all this with their loyalty to Orthodox Christians, but this loyalty is really the mask of Judas – Judas's kiss.

Judas's kiss is the embodiment of horror and betrayal. No one commits a greater evil than a villain hiding under the mask of a friend. But why do they do that? They do it because, like Judas, they want God to act under their instructions, according to their plans and interests, to follow the desires of the Patriarch or Putin. And, since they fail to achieve that, they, like Judas, fill their hearts with bile. They cannot otherwise handle their great disappointment with Jesus Christ because they are not content with the execution of the will and truth of God, they are not content with the Christianity of bread and wine, with the blood spilt and the body broken for us alone, they are not content with the miracle that the creator of cosmos, He who settled in their souls and washed their feet, was crucified, died and was resurrected for them.

For any single Orthodox Christian to spend all his/her life in gratitude, elation and wonder, this must all be incomparably more than just the miracle of myrrh-seeping icons; it must be enough to go outside into the sunlight from the Last Supper and share the happiness bestowed, this amazing gladness of eternal life, with others. But for Judas and his contemporary disciples, the word of God and the Eucharist are nothing more than empty rituals because it does not bring money, glory or dominance in the form of universal, objective power.

They made a grave mistake when they decided to follow Christ, they do not want to be servants of such a God who cares for every sinful person; they do not want to preach stupid notions and fables about a repented tax collector, love to one's enemy, turning the left cheek, poor Lazarus or the compassionate Samaritan. Instead, they want to stand in the front rows at the altar with their heads lifted up as Pharisees and to praise their own deeds.

They want to prove to the entire world that it is not the abandoned, spat upon, and crucified Christ who is correct, but His crucifiers, the empire, the Synedrion, the mob, the majority. They want to prove that God comes not in prayer, but in a fist; that power is not in the cross, but in a stool; that it is not the powerlessness of Paul the Apostle, George the Hagiorite, or Grigol Peradze that wins in earthly life, but the power of Hitler, Stalin, or Putin. Therefore, it is of no wonder that they want to side with the Synedrion and the Kremlin. To look down at the subjugated Christ from above. To celebrate the triumph of victory and direct their multi-million strong armies, congregations and collectives towards the true god as revealed in the mirror – to do this for the glorification of their own worthless selves.

7.

The story of Judas is the drama of a faceless person moving within a mob and mingling with it. This is unfolding, just as it did two millennia ago, in front of us today. Of course, each person in a mob wants to hide his/her cowardice or inner failure under acts of faceless power. He/she wants to compensate the fear of individual disappearance with the reality that he/she, as part of a congregation, mob, herd, or swarm, can issue a sanction for death, can get revenge against a person, can call for His crucifixion and thus imagine him/herself as a real god, a king of death.

Jesus says that no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. A spiritual christening, a re-birth, the directing of one's awareness towards God, represents the birth of a person anew for eternal life. In the act of betrayal, a person is also reborn, but not for the kingdom of God and eternal life, but for putrefaction and the Devil.

Whom, in reality, did Judas betray? Christ? The apostles? His faith? He first and foremost betrays himself, his human nature, his own apostolic dignity: all those gifts and abilities that God bestowed upon him – everything that he built throughout his entire life; what made him happy and pleased. He handed these over and put everything at the disposal of his instructor, the Devil.

It is the abyss of darkness that devours the talents, good deeds, achievements and masterpieces of every traitor Patriarch, episcope, priest, warrior, intellectual, film director, artist, poet, scientist, politician, and citizen. All of their relationships, friendships, love and happiness fade because betrayal completely ruins traitors, destroys their entire psyche, and makes them lose the essence of their existence. The portion of Judas's wine turns into vinegar, his morsel of bread becomes stale, and his thirty pieces of silver become rusty because life has lost its attractiveness.

8.

But Judas's gravest crime, which the Church considers an unforgivable sin, was his suicide: his rejection of his human existence, of life, freedom, penitence and compassion, and his indulgence in fear and nihilism.
Some think that the decision to discontinue living is an extreme expression of freedom, but the Church says that suicide is the ultimate expression of submission to evil, finally sinking into the darkness of the night. There is always a way out, a form of forgiveness, before God. Christianity is the possibility of the impossible: the embodiment God, the resurrection, the secret of the Eucharist.

Caravaggio
If we look through history, we will see that 200 years ago the Patriarchate already committed suicide when it led the Russian army into Tbilisi; when it legalized Russia's imperial dominance; exchanged its freedom for comfort; and actually abolished the 1,500-year-old autocephaly of its Church by turning it into an imperial office, a machine of anti-Christian ideology.

In order to avoid the repetition of history, each and every Orthodox Christian and the entire Church together have to walk down a long and painful path.

To appear before the altar of Christ with a clean conscience, we must ask not for ritual, but for sincere, real, fully realized forgiveness from both God and all those people whom we have mocked, negated, oppressed, persecuted, beat, and abandoned to death for years. Such repentance would ignite a spark of life in our darkness.

We, Georgian Orthodox Christians, corrupted by pride, jealousy, bile, hatred, ignorance, deception, perverseness, hypocrisy, gluttony, evil intentions, offensive language, intolerance, betrayal, laziness and many other countless vices, must thus seek forgiveness from beaten women, whose oppression we have been legalizing from church altars; must seek forgiveness from poor parents whose ill children we have abandoned without attention and support; must seek forgiveness from liberals whom we have turned into an object of hate and encouraged people towards lynching, stoning and executing; must seek forgiveness from tortured prisoners to whom we have been turning a blind eye and even shamelessly justifying their abuse; must seek forgiveness from those small group of people whom we chased after on Rustaveli Avenue under the blessing of the Catholicos-Patriarch on 17 May; must seek forgiveness from gays, bisexuals, lesbians, and transgender people for erasing them from the ranks of human beings; must seek forgiveness from people with mental problems for branding them devilish; we must seek forgiveness from those citizens suffering from Down's syndrome, autism, and any other physical disabilities, whom for years we considered as children of sin; we must seek forgiveness from Jehovah's Witnesses, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, atheists, and Jews, from our Armenian, Azerbaijani, Turkish, Chinese, Arab, Indian, African, European, and American brothers and sisters for the arrows of hatred targeted at them.

We must ask forgiveness from everyone, from the entire Georgian nation, for our diligent efforts over the past few years to, in the name of Christ and Orthodox Christianity, consciously or unconsciously stop Georgia's development and to make the country corrupt and enslaved by the Russian Empire. In order not to die, in order not to kill ourselves, we should wait for Jesus Christ's question, that which He asked Peter the Apostle after being denied three times: Do you love me?

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