One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”
I don’t know if Judas ever thought his actions would lead to Christ’s death. But I am sure he never thought it would lead to his own death. The wages of sin is death; not thirty pieces of silver (cf. Rom 6:23). The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus! Sin leads to despair, which leads to suicide. But forgiveness leads to redemption; it smashes the gates of hell (that entrap me) and leaves wide open one in a million paths to hope and love; and life.
Read all the sacred readings during Holy Week. Underline, highlight, and read over and over again the history of our salvation: what the Lord did, how he did it, what he said, what he didn’t say. Take a hard look because the Lord got through it all! Yes! He got through it all! Love conquers all things!
What would happen to me if I was stripped of my friends? How would I handle being stripped of my hair and my health? What would I do? What would I say? How would I handle being stripped of my reputation; my name? Would I be devastated? Would I fall apart? What would happen to you if you lost your job, your wife, your children, your home and car? What would happen to your teenage daughter or son if their Hearos Skull Screws ear plugs were ripped out of their ears; or if they were disconnected from their iphone, ipod and xbox kinect? Would they shrivel up and blow away if their Tyler shirt, Air Jordan retro (or Lunarglide shoes) and Nike Platinum Elite socks were stripped off of them?
Holy Week will always be holy because it is so realistic, so powerful and so meaningful! We have very few precious days to re-live the most dramatic, the most powerful and the difficult moments in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. But let us not fool ourselves in thinking that this could never happen to me. IT WILL! I too will experience suffering, pain, abandonment, betrayal and loneliness. One day, I will be forced to go where I do not want to go, like a nursing home. One day, I will (if not already) be betrayed and abandoned by my very own. One midnight, my head will spin 360 deg. and my world will be turned upside down by a phone call from the police or a phone call from my child. One day…all this will happen to me, one way or another.
I am not trying to scare anyone. I am simply trying to prepare everyone! We too will go through our Passion. So, it isn’t the time to run and hide but rather meditate and learn; and learn from the Master. Do I have to break all the commandment to be happy? No! Do I have to break any of the commandments to be happy? No. Do I have to respond to every harsh word that is directed towards me? No. A well-trained tongue (cf. Is 50:4) means I know when and when not to use it. Do I have to pick fights with those who attack me? No. Aha! I got it…Do I have to choose my friends very carefully? No. The Lord surrounded himself with mediocre company. They changed. He never changed. “Do what you must”, the Lord told Judas, but I must do what is right.
“Surely, it is not I, Lord?” A few days ago I played for the first time in my life a lottery ticket. I played two dollars worth. I asked myself, “If I won, would I still be a priest?” Well, I didn’t become a priest to become wealthy, that’s for sure! I didn’t become a priest to be comfortable or fashionable or have the latest and greatest electronics or car, that’s for sure. But, what would I do with the money? How would I handle it? Who would I help? “Surely, I would do everything the right way, right?” “Surely, I would be generous to God and to the Church, right?”
Then I remembered the movie, “Airplane” and what comic actor Leslie Nielson would often say: don’t assume anything and stop calling me “Surely”.
Let us not put the Lord to the test. Let us prepare for the test.