Tuesday, March 26, 2013

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”

Believers know that the presence of evil is always accompanied by the presence of good, by grace... Where evil grows, there the hope for good also grows... In the love that pours forth from the heart of Christ, we find hope for the future of the world. Christ has redeemed the world: "By his wounds we are healed."  -  Blessed Pope John Paul II

(Gospel Text: John 13:21-33, 36-38)
Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.
One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved,
was reclining at Jesus’ side.
So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant.
He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him,
“Master, who is it?”
Jesus answered,
“It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.”
So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas,
son of Simon the Iscariot.
After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him.
So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”
Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him.
Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him,
“Buy what we need for the feast,”
or to give something to the poor.
So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.

When he had left, Jesus said,
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself,
and he will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
You will look for me, and as I told the Jews,
‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.”

Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?”
Jesus answered him,
“Where I am going, you cannot follow me now,
though you will follow later.”
Peter said to him,
“Master, why can I not follow you now? 
I will lay down my life for you.”
Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me?
Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow
before you deny me three times.”

What had happened to Judas? How could things have gone so wrong? How could, after three years with Jesus, he have given up all hope?

Unlike Peter, who after his apostasy when he swore that he never knew the Lord after having sworn hours earlier that he would never abandon him wept when he realized he had sinned against the Lord and who turned to the Lord for mercy; unlike the Good Thief on the Cross, who hoping in God's love and mercy, turned to the Lord and asked him to remember Him when he came into his kingdom hours before his death; Judas never understood the depths of God's love and mercy.

He never understood the meaning of the parable of the prodigal Son. He never understood the meaning of Jesus' teaching on the lost sheep and heaven's rejoicing more for one repentant sinner than for all those who never sinned and needed repentance. He never understood the meaning of Jesus' statement to Peter of the infinite forgiveness of God, seventy-seven times. He never understood that Jesus' whole mission was to come to save sinners, to save men just like Judas, to save Judas himself.

After Judas had recognized how wrong his action was, after he saw that Jesus was condemned to death, he returned to the high chief priests and elders, as we'll see in tomorrow's reading, and said, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood," throwing the silver pieces on the floor. Yes he had sinned! But rather than have that sin lead him to the One who was about to die to save him from that sin if only he would turn back to him, Judas, despairing of that forgiveness, went to field and took his own life. What a tragedy indeed!

Where is the good news in the tragedy of Judas? Only God knows if there was any good news for Judas between the tightening of the noose and his sad death seconds later. For us, however, there is good news in the fact that Judas' example illustrates just how essential hope and trust in the Lord's mercy are for our Christian lives.

No matter what we've done in the past, no matter how bad we think our lot is, no matter how unforgivable we think we might be, we can always turn to and trust in the Lord's mercy administered in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. St. Peter did, even though he had considered a little warmth by a fire more valuable than his allegiance to Christ. St. Paul did, even though he used to kill Christians for a living, terrorizing the Christians in the 30s just like Nero would in the 60s and Roman emperors after that.  And so should we.

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