April 16 - Betrayed and Denied
Apr 16, 2019
Scripture: We are full steam ahead into the Triduum. There are only so many ways to reinforce the Messianic predictions of the prophets. In faithful retrospect it is easier for us to "Know what the prophecy means," however this would be a good time to renew the church's teachings regarding the responsibility of the Jews for killing Christ. There have been attempts throughout history to blame all Jews for the death of Christ. Jesus himself said, "Forgive them, they know not what they do," and the Church reinforces that no one else is responsible for another's sin. People chose to kill Christ, Christ allowed it, but those people are dead now and Christ is alive. I start here because it is a worthy scripture where you have a lot of military language that would have been what Judas was looking for. Judas expected Christ to be a great king, a rich king like Solomon, a battle warrior like David, and a religious King like Josiah. Prophecies like the one in today's reading reinforce how people who were seeking a "battle messiah" who was going to drive out the Romans would be very confused and disappointed at what happened. Why would Judas betray Christ? We are told that "Satan entered him." However, that was to execute a plan he had already devised. Did he betray Jesus so as to provoke the warrior, force him to unleash his strength or die? We don't know. But Jesus knew. What I find fascinating is that Jesus predicts his crucifixion numerous times in the Bible, but he acts like he's seen the movie before and is a spoiler. He predicts both Judas' betrayal and Peter's denial within moments. To the Apostles, they had learned not to overreact to these ominous warnings, but in human nature, they would always try to solve Christ's puzzles. Peter was once called Satan for rebuffing Christ's prediction of his own death. James and John were rebuked for fighting over who would be greatest. Now a whiff of betrayal, they must know who? It is John, the beloved Apostle who, while resting his head on Christ's chest is told. As ready as the Apostles thought they might be for anything, the night was closing, and the shepherd would be struck; the sheep would be scattered.
Core Faith Principle: At the same moment we are discovering that Judas will betray and the Peter will deny, John is resting his head on the chest of Jesus. John is presumed to be the youngest, though scripture doesn't tell us, I believe he was only a teenager. John was in Jesus' confidence, in His inner circle of Peter, James, and John (They were the only ones to see the Transfiguration for example). From this moment of intimacy where John rests his head on Jesus' chest during the last supper, comes the tradition of the Sacred Heart (also a vision by St. Margaret Mary Alocoque. This is a reminder that Jesus heart was full of compassion and mercy for the repentant sinner. The difference between Peter and Judas was that Peter's denial did not affect his ability to face Jesus. In fact, Peter ran to the tomb when it was heard Christ rose. Peter jumped off the boat and swam to shore when he recognized the risen Lord. Peter despite is denial sought Christ whole-heartedly and always. Judas in contrast was full of regret and self-disdain. He dared not face Jesus because he dared not face himself. He tried to give the money back to the Jews, he tried to recant his betrayal to them, but the deed was done. As soon as he saw what his sin caused, he had to escape, he ran the only place Christ would not be, he hung himself and fled into Hell, for surely there, despite the torment, the Son of Destruction would not have to look upon the one he betrayed. We must all learn from Judas and learn from Peter and learn from John. The best place to be is where John was, living our lives to the beat of the most Sacred Heart. Should we deny or betray Christ, we must own our sorrow (Peter wept bitterly and so did Judas), but we must be willing to present ourselves in contrition to the Lord. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation we will be forgiven.
Living this at Home: Hang a picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary in your home. There is still an indulgence granted to any who do so. These powerful images remind the family that Jesus and Mary are an essential part of every Catholic family. They remind us that we will suffer in this world even if we are innocent, as Jesus and Mary were. They will also remind us that if we are suffering from sins we have chosen? That we might find mercy and forgiveness in reconciliation. Most importantly it reminds us that we ought to tune our hearts to beat in time with theirs, we ought to tune our hearts to love like theirs, and that we ought to tune our hearts to do whatever the Father in Heaven tells us. Hang those pictures in your home, someplace nice, you'll never regret it.