Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sell Out or Sold Out?

“When it was evening, he reclined at table with the Twelve. And while they were eating he said, ‘Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.’ Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, ‘Surely it is not I, Lord?’” Matthew 26: 20-22

Have you ever had anyone betray you? I mean really, truly sell you out? If so, I bet you had a hard time forgiving that person or loving that person. Or perhaps you still haven’t. Maybe you are still angry with them right now. Maybe just reading this is causing your blood to boil or your heart to beat faster as you see in your mind’s eye the betrayal and the humiliation comes flooding back into focus. I can relate.

But now ask yourself a tougher question: have you ever betrayed anyone else? Is anyone squirming yet? It’s a lot harder to look in the mirror than to point the finger.

Now ask yourself the toughest question: have you ever betrayed our Lord? I’m ashamed to admit that I have. I know that I have said those words of the Passion Story “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” too many times. And I know I need to say them each year on Palm Sunday and Good Friday. I need to acknowledge that so often by my actions I betray the One I love in my heart. The important question is whether or not we are willing to accept the mercy offered to us by the One we betray. Judas was not willing or able to accept this gift, but St. Peter was. All of us deny Jesus and betray our Lord at various times in our lives. All of us will double-cross Jesus. All of us can be tempted to sell Him out in front of our friends or co-workers, or by living and believing according to our cultural standards rather than His standards. But all the while we are selling Him out by our thoughts, words and actions, He is offering us everything. Jesus was and IS sold out for you and me. No matter how many times we sell Him out, He continues to be sold out for us. And we can either fall on our knees with our faces to the ground and accept this undeserved gift of mercy or we can try to run away from it.

This Holy Week, Jesus asks each of us, His deniers and His betrayers, “Do you love me?” And He asks it for every time we have been weak and ashamed of Him. Rather than offer us His ultimate justice (which we deserve), He offers us His life and His love and simply asks us for our love in return as gratitude for His sacrifice. The only way we will ever stop selling Jesus out is when we finally decide to be totally sold out for Him. May we use this Holy Week to stop running from His grace and fall into His arms of mercy, so that like St. Peter, we can “feed His sheep” with our lives from this day forward.

Dear Jesus, thank You for dying for me and offering me Your mercy, even when I betray and deny You. Help me to overcome my sin and weakness by humbly accepting Your mercy and love. And help me to always love You faithfully in return. Amen.

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