04 April 2012

spy wednesday | reflection

Today is Wednesday of Holy Week, which in some places is known as Spy Wednesday, as today's Mass readings highlight Judas's betrayal of Jesus. These readings prefigure the Church Militant's composition of saints and sinners, virtues and flaws.
Judas was one of the Twelve, called to be one of the apostles who after the resurrection would lay the foundation of the college of Bishops, the foundation of the Church. But we can also never forget that he was one of Jesus' chosen Twelve. Christ called each of the Apostles by name as God had called the prophets. Jesus must have known, and thus allowed, this man who would betray him to walk among his fellow apostles. He sent him out to preach the Gospel and granted Judas the power to heal and cast out demons in His name.

In light of this, is it any wonder that throughout the Church's history there have been popes described by saints as "demon[s] from Hell in the disguise of priest[s]", bishops who practice simony , priests who have made horrific abuses within their parishes, and countless sins committed by Catholics for two-thousand years? These actions are unpardonable, justice should and will be meted out for all sin, but must be forgivable (for we have been commanded to pardon our enemies and Christ himself forgave his persecutors from the very cross on which he hung) and in light of Judas sadly they are unsurprising. Here was the betrayer not only of merely a friend but the Son of God and the Messiah; should we be so shocked when fallen mortal betrays fallen mortal?

Judas's actions are a mystery of faith: he who was so close to the Lord held within him the capability and will to put into motion Jesus' murder; and this act of personal and deicidal sin lead to the Redemption of humanity. This leaves us with  the somewhat terrifying thought that no matter how close we may come to Jesus in prayer we too might be capable of such betrayal, but it should also cause us to reflect that whatever sinners dwell in the house of the Lord that is the Church, their evil will by the grace of God lead to some greater good. This does not remove the pain of suffering and betrayal that the immediate victims and indeed the whole Church suffers. It does note, as stated above, remove the need for justice from both Ecclesiastical and Secular authority. But it should cause us to simultaneously ever cry out to God Why!? Save us...!

Confuse, O Lord, divide their tongues,
     For I have seen violence and strife in the city.
Day and night they go around her upon her walls,
     And iniquity and mischief are in her midst.
Destruction is in her midst;
     Oppression and deceit do not depart from her streets.
For it is not an enemy who reproaches me,
     Then I could bear it;
     Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me,
     Then I could hide myself from him.
But it is you, a man my equal,
     My companion and my familiar friend;
We who had sweet fellowship together
     Walked in the house of God in the throng.
--Psalm 54
To make a prayer trust in God, just as Christ cried upon the Cross,
In You our fathers trusted;
     they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
   in you they trusted, and were not disappointed!
--Psalm 21
But ultimately to remember that first all as fellow humans, then we who declare Christ to be the Son of God, and then those of us who are Catholic, that the sins of those within the Church are our sins. We are all called to make penance for the sins of our brothers and fathers, sisters and mothers. For those who betray the Church are our kith and kin in Christ, so when we say "Forgive us OUR sins" we take as our own the sins of all those who were meant to be co-heirs with Christ. And not only for the sins of others, but never forgetting that all sin is sin against God. We have all, at one time or another taken the thirty pieces of silver, excused our betrayal of God with personal gain. We walk hand in hand with Judas into to the Garden, it is our lips that kiss the cheek of Jesus and our voice that utters "Rabbi!"

However, though we must realize that we are all betrayers of Christ, that he died because of our sins, more so should we hold that he died FOR our sins, opening his arms wide upon the cross to embrace us all; he forgives All their sins, whether they have repented or no, and indeed in the invitation to Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is coming into the world, we are offered not only forgiveness, but a share in that divine Kingdom which is the love that passes between the Son and the Father to whom he offered his Spirit on the Cross. To repent, to take up our Cross and walk the way of the Lord, in these last days of Lent, these Last Days of Time, is to find ourselves invited to the Eternal Easter, the divine life of the God who, as St Augustine tells us, became man that we might become as gods.

Let us not only cast away our sins as Judas cast away the silver, but pray for forgiveness, repent, do good that God may raise us all together to eternal life. Amen.

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