Tuesday of Holy Week
"I tell you solemnly, one of you will betray Me" (John)
i. Although an instrument of torture and execution,
the Cross was chosen by our dear Lord as the best instrument to bring
about the Redemption of the Human Race. It was the perfect instrument, for
it is proper that if we fell as a race near a tree
tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, it is only proper that we rise as
a race near the tree of the Cross. The Cross is also very directional
points north, south, east, and west telling us that salvation goes out in
every direction from the Cross. And finally, the Cross displays Christ to
the world. He is, if you will, seated upon the throne of the Cross
Teacher, Wisdom Incarnate is fixed to the Master's Chair teaching us by
word and example.
ii. And upon this throne of the Cross, the first
words out of Christ's most sacred mouth were
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"Father, forgive them." Father, forgive them is not a prayer for
His mother, nor for those holy women at the foot of the Cross. Nor is it
for the Beloved Disciple, St. John. No, these words are spoken for the
sake of His executioners. His Most Sacred Heart is always going out to
those in greatest need or to those least deserving
enemies. Christ Jesus issues no complaints
mention is made of avenging justice. Rather, He pleads for mercy for them.
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iii. In the Old Testament, individuals who sought
to arrest or insult prophets were often the object of divine vengeance.
When King Ahaziah tried to forcibly bring Elijah the Prophet into his
presence, Yahweh took revenge on the troops that sought to touch Elijah.
"Man of God," the soldiers said to Elijah, "the king commands you to come
down from the hilltop." "If I am a man of God," Elijah stated, "may fire
come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men." And vengeful
fire did come down not once, but twice upon two groups of soldiers. Also,
consider when the prophet Elisha was taunted and insulted by a group of
who kept on saying to Elisha, "go up, thou bald head, go up thou bald
head." The prophet cursed the youngsters and two bears came out and tore
the forty youngsters to pieces.
iv. But such revenge
such curses were never made against our Lord's executioners. In fact our
dear Lord Who is the Prophet of Prophets only pardons and grants mercy.
And such merciful love brings conversion
centurion who claims Christ's divinity and innocence, and yes countless
men and women who weep and strike their breasts as they look upon Him Whom
they have pierced. And yes, such a prayer as
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Father forgive them ... would lead countless martyrs that followed
Christ to love their enemies and to pray for their persecutors.
v. And such love, such forgiveness, would even have
been for Judas Iscariot. If I have one criticism of the movie, The
Passion of the Christ, it is the portrayal of Judas. As is often the
case, Judas is seen as an individual torn
a man who wished to see Christ succeed, but in a worldly sense. Well, the
apostles and the Fathers of the Church have quite a different view of
Judas. Remember the Gospel reading from yesterday, where Judas complains
about the perfume poured upon our Lord by Mary. He has no real love for
Christ or else he would not have complained
was a man filled with greed, avarice, using Christ for his own profit. St.
yes, selling him out for thirty pieces of silver. He is ever recorded by
the Evangelists simply as the traitor, the man who betrayed Christ.
vi. When we portray Judas as some tragic
individual, we naturally feel pity for him. But when we seem him as the
as a thief, as one who descried the devotion of Mary of Bethany
one who was avaricious, greedy and would sell His supposed friend in a
heart beat, then our pity towards Judas is lacking. What an ugly character
could anyone love this man? Yet Christ did love Him. Our dear Lord did
wash the feet of Judas
even when that blistering, hateful kiss was given to the Master, Jesus
looked at Judas and called him
vii. How we can learn from our dear Lord. When
tempted to condemn one who persecutes or irritates us
when we are not willing to forgive and forget
when we sit in judgment
when we grow harsh or severe
excusing persons because of weakness hear the words: PATER...