Like every day, today’s Gospel is speaking to each of us. “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” (Matthew 26:14-25). He is not talking to the empty space in the pew next to me. He is talking to me and He is talking to you. How often do we want to focus on the sins of others instead of our own sins? I prayed the Sorrowful Mysteries of Mary with some friends at church this morning. There was a time when I would have been embarrassed to admit that I have never prayed these before because I didn’t want to be judged by other “holier Catholics.” I have learned over the years that there is no “select” group of Catholics. We are all on the same journey, many of us with the same struggles. The only difference I can see in people is whether we have each made a decision to be a mature disciple or not. To be a mature disciple, we all have to face our own sinfulness sooner or later and repent–sometimes, again and again. We all have to understand that we have been a Judas– we have been a betrayer. I need to understand that every time I sin, I am pounding the nails into Jesus’ hands and feet. Jesus is not a statue on a wooden cross. Jesus came in the flesh and my sins have driven nails into His flesh. Think of the person you love the most, or maybe the person you don’t love the most. Whether friend of foe, could you really drive nails into their hands and feet, spit in their face, and mock them? Are we really capable of this? The answer is “yes.” And the appropriate response is: “I am so sorry. Can you ever forgive me?” Jesus answers: “I forgive you”, even when we can’t. This is love. Forgiveness is the highest form of love. Everything else we think is love is not love.
Given that this week is Holy Week, I can’t think of a better time to reflect on the price Jesus paid for our sins. In Re-routing, we were asked to divide our life into segments and write down all the sins from those time periods. I have done my list and I am sure there are sins that I have forgotten, but it is amazing to me the sins you don’t forget. I can remember sins from as early as the 4th grade when I made my friend eat a chocolate chip cookie made out of sand because I thought it was funny or stealing my best friends earrings because I wanted them. As we have grown older, our sins most likely became more serious or as we have matured, we have become more serious about our sin. The first pass at listing my sins was easy and made me cringe just to write them on paper. The second pass I have yet to do, but, I am going to use this Holy Week to dig deeper. I have this hope every person who is still sitting on the fence about turning in their commitment card to live for Jesus, will make the decision to not just “check a box” to be a “holier Catholic”, but, instead will make a decision in their head and heart to be a missionary disciple.
I am so undeserving of all the gifts that you have given me. I can not properly express my gratitude for your mercy, your love and your compassion. Everything I have is a gift from you–my friends, my family, my money, my time, and my talents. Why have you been so generous to me when I so often choose to put nails through the hands and feet of Jesus? Forgive me, Lord. I know that you love me. I know that you did this for me. Give me the courage to surrender completely every day. Give me the courage to listen to your voice. The voice of a loving Father who doesn’t want me to despair, but wants me to have hope in the Resurrection. Help me to reject sin. I choose to walk in the Light. I choose to run back to you when I stumble because I know you will pick me up again and again.
For the rest of this Holy Week, I pray for all the people in my life that are gifts to me. I pray for each of them to know your love as a good Father. I pray that no matter how far away they are from you that they will come back to you. Amen