Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday & Judas & Forgiveness

The tragedy of Judas is that he despaired of the forgiveness that Christ had promised he had come into this world to give. Bereft of faith in this promise, he remained lost. What "saved" the other apostles from this fate was that they believed that if the Lord truly passed from death to life as he promised he would, he would also be true to his promise regarding the reason he had come: "For the Son of Man did not come into this world to condemn the world, but to save it and to offer his life as a ransom for the many."
This quote is from the Word on Fire Blog.

Today is Holy Thursday.  This is a very important Holy Day in many Christian faiths, and especially in the Catholic faith.

I attended the Holy Thursday Mass tonight at my Church, and I had my feet washed by our parish pastor.  Why do holy priests stoop to wash feet?

Here is an image of the future Pope Francis washing the feet on an unidentified woman in a maternity hospital in 2005.

Forgiveness is not something that any of us should ever presume.  No one is obligated to forgive.  It remains a gift of undeserved compassion.  The startling surprise in Christ's revelation that he is willing to forgive us even when, as the circumstances of his death clearly demonstrate, he doesn't have to and in fact shouldn't.  He does forgive us, and if we are not surprised by this, we really aren't paying attention to what it meant to die as he did.  The problem for Judas, it seems to me, is that he despaired of this possibility of forgiveness for himself.  It is this despair that makes the outcome of his decision not just sad, but tragic.

Honesty demands that we admit that our own betrayals of Christ place us in the same spiritual space that Judas inhabited.  We may not be, as Judas was, thieves and liars, but we all have had the occasion to say "no" to Christ, and most of us if pressed would have to admit that we did precisely that- and more than once.  We have all in the course of our lives had the opportunity to stand up and be counted as Christ's followers and then slinked away, preferring as Judas did, the cover of night to the Light of the World.  How many of us have, through the free assent of our own will, delivered our faith in Christ into the hands of his enemies, allowing those enemies to use us against him, and letting them, through us, kill Christ's life in this world?

There is much in us that is like Judas.  What can only differentiate us from Judas is our willingness to accept what he could not- that Christ knows us from the inside, understands our predicament and is willing to set right what we have made wrong.  Christ is willing to not only call us out of darkness into light, but go into that darkness to find us.  That is, after all, what he did in his cross.  He went into the dark to find us and to forgive us.

We must believe that Christ is willing to forgive and this must be our act of faith, or the tragedy of Judas can be our own.
Father Steve Grunow is the CEO of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.
Above is a continuation of the first quote from the blog.  To read the whole entry please click on the link above titled "Word on Fire Blog."

My pastor's homily tonight was about forgiveness- about forgiving others- washing their feet- as Christ washed the feet of the broken in the Gospels.

I truly believe the first step in forgiving others is being able to forgive our own failings, to truly understand:
The startling surprise in Christ's revelation that he is willing to forgive us even when, as the circumstances of his death clearly demonstrate, he doesn't have to and in fact shouldn't.
God is bigger than we can imagine.  Christ is bigger than we can imagine.  The Holy Spirit is bigger than we can imagine.  And together, in the Holy Trinity, and in the sacraments, that is where peace can be found.


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