Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Not I, Lord?

“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 disturbed at this, they began to say to him one after another, ‘Surely it is not I, Lord?’” Matthew 26: 20-22

We are masters at justification, are we not? We can look at something we have done and within seconds we can come up with all kinds of reasons why what we did was necessary, or not our fault, or even good—even if we have caused harm or pain.

It is interesting to see how distressed and defensive the Apostles became at the words of Jesus. Perhaps in some way, big or small, maybe only in the deepest recesses of their hearts they had doubted Him, they had questioned His wisdom, His sanity, His divinity. Was there a time when they thought they had a better idea, a better word, a better way to market or present the message? And so when confronted by this statement of betrayal, they cringed, recoiled and reacted out of guilt, or shame, trying to justify in their own minds with words the betrayal they may have felt in their hearts at one time or another.

They didn’t want to betray Him. They loved Him. And so do we love Him. But often in our own lives we too, ask the question “What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you?” While Judas betrayed Jesus for a mere 30 pieces of silver, do we not also give up our relationship with Jesus for so little? Do we back down in the face of threats or insults? Do we hide our faith in Christ at work or school? Do we sacrifice Christ to fit in with the crowd, joining our voices at Mass with the Hosannas, but with curses at the mall or with our friends? Do we fill our hearts and minds with words and images that drive us deeper into ourselves or sin and away from Christ? Do we abandon Him with every new relationship or deny Him when questioned about our beliefs?

Despite the fact that Jesus knew the hearts of His Apostles and despite the fact that He knows our often divided hearts, He still died for them and He still died for us. The reality is that Jesus died for Judas just as much as He died for St. Peter or St. John. Jesus does not love you or me more than Hitler. The difference is whether or not we will accept that love and live in it. All of us are capable or betraying, abandoning and denying Jesus. But only He is capable of bringing us back, of healing us, of redeeming us and turning us into new creations. Will we say “yes” to this love today? Will we say “yes” to His grace, His redeeming power? Or will we stay mired in our doubts, our pride, our fears, our sins, all the while confessing our love for Him but surprised when He points out our betrayal?

This Holy Week we have the opportunity to search our own hearts, our motives, and allow Jesus to expose them for us so we can see ourselves honestly. Only then can we begin to truly throw ourselves into the ocean of mercy and grace that awaits us at the cross on Good Friday.

Dear Jesus, expose my justifying heart, my doubts, my fears and my betrayals and bring me to the foot of the cross where I can be set free by Your Precious Blood. Amen.

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