How beautiful are these holy days?! I wanted to let you all know that we friars are praying for you. Also, the following book is very helpful in understanding the beauty of our faith and the mystery of the Mass.
This is a great book by a great author. Brant Pitre does a wonderful job explaining the Jewish roots of our Christian faith, in particular as it helps us to understand the gift of the Eucharist. Enjoy!
The Last Supper, the death of Christ on the cross and the resurrection on Easter are intimately connected. We cannot understand one without the others.
Wednesday of Holy Week is calledSpy Wednesdaybecause it commemorates the day Judas went to the Sanhedrin to confirm the plot to betray Jesus. It seems that Lady Gaga has taken the opportunity to release a twisted song about her love of Judas.
The mystery of Judas is very deep. Over the years many people have tried to expound on what happened with this iconic betrayer. The 1971 Rock Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, is another modern example which gets Judas wrong. Some people mistakenly think that poor Judas was doomed by fate and had no choice - a mere pawn.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers an important clarification of the issue: "Jesus' violent death was not the result of chance in an unfortunate coincidence of circumstances, but is part of the mystery of God's plan, as St. Peter explains to the Jews of Jerusalem in his first sermon on Pentecost: 'This Jesus [was] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.'
This Biblical language does not mean that those who handed him over were merely passive players in a scenario written in advance by God. To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy. When therefore he establishes his eternal plan of 'predestination', he includes in it each person's free response to his grace:
'In this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.' For the sake of accomplishing his plan of salvation, God permitted the acts that flowed from their blindness" (## 599, 600).
Seen in this light, there might be a deeper meaning to Judas. Could it be that our merciful Jesus was doing everything possible to win Judas back even before the betrayal? At the Last Supper Jesus mentioned the betrayal out loud. He also performed an affectionate gesture of offering a hand dipped morsel to Judas. This might have been Jesus reaching out to Judas, inviting him to rethink the satanic plans of his heart.
Judas and Peter both betray Jesus. Both Judas and Peter were remorseful for their betrayal. Peter's humble repentance leads to mercy and forgiveness. Judas' prideful remorse seems to lead to despair. Like Judas and Peter, we all betray Jesus every time we sin. Let us pray for the grace of true contrition for our sins, a contrition which leads to mercy and forgiveness!
Have a blessed Holy Triduum,
Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
St. Joseph Friary, New York, New York
When we are confronted with death there can be many temptations that often assail us: fear, sorrow, doubt and a pessimistic attitude concerning life. In the account in John’s Gospel of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-45) all of these temptations are present among the disciples, Martha and Mary, and the Jews who were present there.
The disciples begin by expressing their fear to Jesus, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?” (John 11:8). Next we encounter Mary’s sorrow because Jesus was not there to help her brother before he died, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32). The Jews present there see Jesus and doubt his ability to raise Lazarus from the dead, “Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man have done something so that this man would not have died?” (John 11:37).
Finally, there is a pessimistic attitude that Martha adopts, “Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days” (John 11:39). Why do we place all of these obstacles before Him? Is it because our faith in Him is not deep enough? Are we still looking for other possible solutions to the drama of life?
Jesus reminds us “I am the resurrection and the life: he who believes in me, though he die, shall live” (John 11:25). Faith in Jesus is not simply a passive affair. It involves an abandonment of our entire selves to Him. Yet on a much deeper and consoling level it implies that the answer to our fears, sorrows, doubts and even our pessimism is not a theory, a philosophy or even a disciplined way of life but a person, Jesus Christ.
John 11:1-47 John 11:1 24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" 27 She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world."
28 ¶ When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying quietly, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Then Mary, when she came where Jesus was and saw him, fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled; 34 and he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" 37 But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" 38 ¶ Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. 39 Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days." 40 Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 I knew that thou hearest me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me." 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out." 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go." 45 ¶ Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him; 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council, and said, "What are we to do? For this man performs many signs.
God bless you,
Dc. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
St. Leopold Friary, Yonkers, New York
Perhaps the greatest tragedy about Judas is not his decision to betray Jesus but his obstinate refusal to repent and accept the mercy and love of God. Did he not hear our Lord’s words in the parable of the Lost Sheep, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance?” (Luke 15:7).
Yet the Gospels say Judas did “repent.” “He repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying ‘I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.’ They said, ‘What is that to us? See to it yourself” (Matthew 27:3-4). The chief priests and the elders were incapable of offering the forgiveness Judas was needed. Still, he does not turn towards Jesus for forgiveness, and immersed in the selfishness of his sins, “he went and hanged himself” (Matthew 27:5).
Are we anything like Judas? Too prideful to seek God’s forgiveness because we are convinced our own sins are too great? Has our selfishness blinded us to God’s unfathomable mercy? Do we even believe anymore that God can forgive us and that he wants to?
If Judas would have allowed him, Jesus would have forgiven him as he forgave so many others before him. Jesus did not love Judas because he was a perfect man, nor did he love the prostitutes, tax collectors and other sinners because they were perfect. He accepted their brokenness and their pain, and rather than run from it in disgust, Jesus stepped into the filth of their lives to reveal their own dignity to than and marvel at the greatness and love of God who came so that we “may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
Was this truth too great for Judas? Is it too great for us?
God bless you,
Dc. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
St. Leopold Friary, Yonkers, New York