THE NOW WORD ON MASS READINGS
for Tuesday of Holy Week, March 31st, 2015
Liturgical texts here
Judas and Peter (detail from ‘The Last Supper”), by Leonardo da Vinci (1494–1498)
THE Apostles are aghast at being told that one of them would betray the Lord. Indeed, it is the unthinkable. So Peter, in a moment of indignation, perhaps even self-righteousness, begins to look his brothers over with suspicion. Lacking the humility to see into his own heart, he sets about finding the fault of the other—and even gets John to do the dirty work for him:
Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom [Jesus] meant. (Today’s Gospel)
Seeing now that it is Judas who will betray Him, Peter, inflated with pride, boldly proclaims that he will follow Jesus wherever He goes. But the Lord sees through the fickle nature of His fallen creation and replies:
Will you lay down your life for me? Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.
How quick we are to scan the news headlines and shake our heads at the heathens! How fast we are to level eyes of scorn on our pagan co-workers and classmates. How swift we are to see who has come to Mass and who hasn’t, who prays like me, who sings like me, who thumbs their rosary, who kneels, who bows, whose donation is paper and whose donation “klinks.” Ah! How quick we are to criticize our priests, denounce our bishops, and even censure the Pope! We are the chosen! We are the remnant! We are the consecrated ones! We keep the law! We are the true Catholics! We will never betray Him!
And Jesus turns to us and says,
This very hour, you will become distracted and forget My presence. This very day, you will choose to love yourself more than Me, to serve yourself more than your neighbour, to gaze frequently at your idols, especially the idol of self…
Brothers and sisters, the earth can no more escape the light of the sun than we can the light of truth in these words. If we are honest, then we must admit that every day we commit the “unthinkable.” For to love the Lord your God will all your heart, soul, and strength is the first commandment—and who of us keeps it every hour and every minute of the day? If we could see the face of our angels, indeed aghast at our lukewarmness, we would realize how anything less than total love of our Living God is unthinkable.
Keep these words near your heart whenever you are tempted to judge your neighbour. However, never let this truth lead you to the despair of Judas, but the repentance of Peter. For the day that Peter became more human was not Pentecost, but those wee hours of Good Friday morning—shortly after the mournful crow of cock. It was the day he became more lovable, more humble, more transparent, indeed, more ready to be the shepherd of Christ’s flock that he was called to be. For in an instant, the “rock” became meek and humble of heart… the tears of Peter washing away whatever self-satisfaction remained.
The day that we will begin to experience a new inner peace is when we never give voice to that spirit of condemnation; when we cease to hold the letter of the law like a bludgeon over everyone else (but like a feather over ourselves). The key to begin loving others with the heart of Christ is to overlook their faults and look only to your own. When you see another’s weaknesses and sins, immediately turn to yourself and say, “Ah, but I am a great sinner myself with these faults and many more. Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”
And He who is Love itself will cast the same gaze of mercy upon you that fell upon Peter, saying…
My child, it is not perfection but pliability that endears you to me; not holiness, but humility. When you are pliable, then I can begin to perfect you; when you are humble, then I can truly make you holy. Child of My Heart, never be afraid to see yourself as you are—as I see you—because even this truth will begin to set you free. See how I love you! I spread My arms and died with your name upon My lips—even when you did not know me, even when you were immersed in sin.
Love others then, as I have loved you…
O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds… (Today’s Psalm)
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