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Mt 26:14-25 Surely it Isn’t I, Lord?

Wednesday of Holy Week
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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?”  They paid him thirty pieces of silver, and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

Selling the Lord for cheap.  One of my favorite television programs is called ”Forensic Files.”  It’s my favorite because I love science (when it is applied for good purposes) and the drama of human existence.

I find it fascinating how crimes are solved through forensic science and trace evidence.  But what I really find interesting is the reason – the motif – behind the crimes.   It amazes me how somebody would kill another human being just for money - as little as twenty-thousand dollars -, or a piece of jewelry - like a ring or a necklace -, or just for the thrill of it. 

With all that I have seen, I’m still shocked by the fact that Judas betrayed Christ for thirty pieces of silver.  What in the world was he thinking?  But is this all the evidence we have?  Not really.  As we will see in the coming days, there’s more to this crime than meets the eye.

A little bit of Judas in all of us.  All of us have had our moments when we let our thoughts run wild: when we imagined personal greatness or doing something really amazing – even heroic – for the world that put us on the front cover of some famous magazine.  Now what typically stopped us dead in our thoughts were the odds against any of these things actually happening. After all, most of us are in no position to make such a huge impact in the world.  At least this is how it is in the case for goodness.  But when it comes to evil, all bets are off. 

I would imagine that most of us have had our moments when we let our evil thoughts run wild and imagined doing something awful to someone else.  This is not something difficult to think about or do.  Anyone can think it.  Anyone can do it.  Apparently, evil thoughts and evil men have an easier way of penetrating the world and leaving their mark on our memories and on the whole world. 

Judas was in the right place at the right time to leave such a mark.

What motivated him to do it?  The same things that occasionally motivate us:  ambition, pride, vanity and sensuality.

Never say never.  Like most of us, Judas wanted to be heard.  He wanted to be respected.  He wanted his opinions to be accepted.  He wanted to move up in the ranks and be acknowledged before others; especially Jesus, Peter, James and John. 

Judas was a wanna be, just like me.  And since he couldn’t take center stage, he ended up exiting stage left.  He sold the Lord out for silver. 

I can honestly relate to Judas.  And this is a very important lesson for me. 

We all have a little bit of Judas in us. 

So what’s my price?  What am I willing to exchange the Lord for

If we want to defeat the dark angels within us, then we need to know what they are thinking…and thinking all the time. 

Surely it isn’t I, Lord?  Instead of feeling safe and snug around Jesus, the Apostles should have been terrified and humbled around Him; asking, with trembling voices, “Is it I, Lord?”

Jn 13:21-33, 36-38 Killing Me Softly

Tuesday of Holy Week(Click here for readings)Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant. …Simon Peter said to him, “Master, w…

Jn 12:1-11 Snap!

Monday of Holy Week
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Judas the Iscariot, one of Jesus disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to poor?”  He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions.

Why does Judas say such awful things to the Lord?  I have no doubt Judas was a good man, at the beginning, and that he wished to follow Christ with all his heart.  But over time something horribly wrong happened to him, and somewhere, somehow, he lost his faith in the Lord. 

Has this happened to me?  Has this happened to all of us? 

Be careful, for even the Lord’s most loving expressions of affection can seem like pure exaggeration, and be met with suspicion, when one’s mind is orchestrating and the heart is ill. 

Every good deed felt like a thorn in Judas’ side and became an occasion for cynicism and open rebellion. 

No one is good.  No one is that good.  No one deserves to be respected.  No one deserves my respect. 

Why do we think such awful things?  Because we have been taught to think such things and to believe in such things.

Why do you say these awful things to me?  I know a lot of moms and dads who work tirelessly to keep their teenage children on the straight and narrow path, only to be met with ridicule and scorn by them.  They hear horrible things said to them and wonder:  “Why do they say these awful things to me?  Have I done something wrong?” 
I remember working for a man who was very power hungry, anal-retentive, obnoxious, rude, vulgar and downright mean to people in general and to me, specifically.  I immediately adapted myself to his style of being and found myself acting like a puppy dog in his presence.  Mind you, no one in the office argued with him.  No one complained about him.  No one criticized him.  On the contrary, people showed a great deal of respect towards him.  “Yes, sir!” was what I most often heard in his office.  Strangely enough, the people who worked the closest to him enjoyed working for him.  He made them feel like they owned the place.  It was all like a mafia. 

Now when I got shipped over to a new department, I found myself before a very kind and humble boss – one of those “team player” type of guys.  Unfortunately, I  interpreted humility with mental weakness and gentleness with cowardice, and honesty with naiveté.  I found myself blowing up at him for the tiniest of reasons.  He once asked me, “Why do you say such awful things to me?”  My life shattered.  I felt like a spell had been broken, a spell that had been put on me by my former boss.

It took a while for me to stop standing on my head and to get my proper bearings.

Are you still struggling?

Judas may have had a better impression of the Lord from a distance than he did close up and personal.  I’m convinced he saw the makings of a great king in Christ’s healing powers, but a pauper in His willingness to forgive lepers and sinners.  Judas was convinced the Lord had what it took to organize the people, but he was confused as hell as to why the Lord kept antagonizing the country’s greatest leaders!

Stop doing that! 

It’s hard to break the spell that has been cast on us.  It’s hard to believe there’s a strength that comes from poverty and a beauty that accompanies humility.

Judas snapped before he could change.   

When you look at Judas, who do you see?  I know I see a bit of myself in him. 

We need to change before we snap.

Mt 26:14-27:66 Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday
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I don’t know about you, but I struggle getting into the proper mood during Holy Week.  It’s hard to be sad when you know how the story ends. 

I do not envy our ancestors at all, but I do believe they lived these upcoming days (Holy Week) in a way I will never be able to.  Their hearts and minds must have been filled with every type of emotion: with fits of fear, anger, guilt, denial, bitterness, confusion, despair, surprise, excitement, etc…  They must have gone from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows; from feeling like their world was falling apart to feelings of being on the top of the world; from hell to heaven in seventy-two hours.  Crazy! 

Today’s Gospel passage invite us to let loose our emotions, to allow ourselves to be swept away by feelings of sadness and of guilt. 

These are the days to allow our imagination to run wild and to picture ourselves in every scene:  with Judas and the chief priests; with the disciples in the upper room; with Christ in Gethsemane; with the Lord at his trial and execution.

These are the days for contemplation and reflection; for sorrow and tears; to meditate on what we did to Him and what He did for us.

+ One of you will betray me…They began to say to him one after another, “Surely it is not I, Lord?” 

Sometimes the best lessons in life come from other people’s mistakes.  All our lives we have been told to be very confident in ourselves.  Do I pride myself in being confident in myself?  If so, then take some time to reflect on this passage.  I find it earth shattering and timely.  Consider this passage an invitation to be less confident in oneself and more confident in every word that comes forth from the mouth of Christ. 

Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” 

Even Judas joined in like the rest of them.

+ This night all of you will have your faith in me shaken.

What night?  Only God knows, but there will come a night when the world comes tumbling down on me:  a phone call in the middle of the night; a horrible diagnosis; some terrible news.  The headless horseman will come riding to me in the middle of the night to shake my faith in all I ever knew and believed in.

+ Peter said to him in reply, “Though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be.”

He’s so confident in himself.  Do I see a little of myself in him?

+ [Again] Peter said to him, “Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.”

Peter!  Peter!  Stop.  Lord!  Lord!  I get your point.  I’m sorry for the times I have promised way too much to you.  Better to be honest and humble, then confident and a liar.

+ Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived accompanied by a large crowd, with swords and clubs…His betrayer arranged a sign with them, saying, “The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him.”  Immediately he went over to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and he kissed him.

Do my thoughts or intentions correspond to my words and gestures? Am I nice to others just to get what I want? 

What looks like love is no love at all.  It is betrayal.  Have I betrayed God?  Have I betrayed my brothers and sisters?  Have I betrayed myself?

+ The high priest said to Jesus, “I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Christ, the Son of God.” …[Then] Jesus stood before the governor, and he questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Do you really want to know?  Is anybody really interested in the truth?  If not, then why keep asking?  This all for show!

Do I really want to know who Jesus of Nazareth is or have I already made up my mind? Am I really interested in the truth or am I just going through the motions?

Jesus told Pontius Pilate what he told the high priest:  “You have said so.”  And they all threw a fit! 

So why did the Pharisees, scribes, elders, chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin hate Jesus so much?  What did He do?  Simply put: He ruined a good thing.  He revealed to the world who God is, and they didn’t like what they saw.

“You have your God.  I have my God.”  Sound familiar?  It does to me.  I used to say it all the time.  It was my favorite argument against others.  But it is no argument at all.  It’s just a retreat.  It’s a tactic. 

Jesus blew apart our image of God, the one created with our pride, vanity and sensuality; the one that took years to construct; the one that looks an awful lot like, well, me.  How convenient of him.  How convenient of me. Look at how flexible my god is.  He bends with me. He sides with me. He agrees with me. He loves me.  How wonderful is my god.  

We hate Christ because He ruined our relationship with our false gods!

+ Those passing by reviled [Jesus], shaking their heads and saying, “…Save yourself…and come down from the cross!”  The chief priests…mocked [Jesus] and said, “…Let him come down now, and we will believe in him.”

Spoken like a true militant atheist but with an interesting religious twist.  

Militant atheists don’t rely on God for anything.  If you want something done, then you better take matters (and some people) into your own hands, even at the risk of being very wrong. 

Militant “religious atheists” don’t rely on God for anything religious,  especially when dealing with religious people.  They tend to take matters and people into their own hands, even at the risk of being very wrong.  

Well if “God” won’t put Jesus of Nazareth to death, then we will, and we will do it anyway we can, even if it means doing everything the devil would do. 

Religious atheists think they are doing God a favor when they kill His “enemies” in His name.  They are not.  The crucifixion of our Lord teaches us that.  

Jesus said to his disciple:  “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.  Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels?”  

As the Lord’s disciples were being rounded up and beaten, one of the wisest words ever spoken in the New Testament (Acts 5:34-39) came from a devout Jew, a Pharisee, who apparently remained a devout Jew all his life. His name was Gamaliel.  In the presence of his fellow Pharisees, he said the following words:

“Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing.  After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

These are the days for contemplation and reflection; for deep sorrow and tears; and to meditate on what the Lord did for us and we did to Him.

+ Arise, let us be on our way.

Jn 11:45-56 Forget what you saw here.

Saturday of the Fifth Week of Lent
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Meditation by Kim Elenez

“I didn’t see that.” How many times have we uttered those words when we know we most definitely did see it? Perhaps to a colleague doing something that you both know is wrong, but chose to turn a blind eye. Maybe your child spilled a drink in a store, and you just looked both ways and kept going. “I didn’t see that.”

The Lord gives us so many wonderful gifts – sight is one of them. With this gift we appreciate the power of His majesty with color and expression. But He has also given our minds the gift of sight in that we can “see” things without using our eyes.  Understanding and comprehension are equivocal to sight. And because of this, at times, we decide what we want to see.

You can’t put toothpaste back in the tube.

I don’t remember where I picked up this phrase. Probably in some business meeting or from some speaker, where jargon and metaphors run a muck to turn dry conversation richer. That said, I like it. It means that you can’t un-do some situations. For example, you can’t un-say something. Once you’ve said it, it’s out there, now what will you do?

So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. If we leave him alone, all will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our land and our nation.”

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing…

I have to believe the chief priests and Pharisees felt like they had toothpaste all over the place. What are we going to do with this guy Jesus? He’s out there making believers out of all these people, and we haven’t shut him down? And we haven’t because, gulp, he’s got the goods to back up his claims. Ok, ok, here’s the deal, fellas – you know nothing. Capiche?

So from that day on they planned to kill him.

What if they hadn’t killed Him? What if they had chosen to honor Him and believe? What a mess that would have been to clean up! The Romans would have made their life absolute hell. To bad for those chief priests and Pharisees that they didn’t comprehend the reality that they would have had God on their side during that cleanup period with the Romans. Sometimes when the toothpaste is out, we make an even bigger mess trying to clean it up.

But remember this was not their plan. God knew that these humans would fail. Christ’s passion was decided by God, so it was going to happen, Pharisees or not. We flawed humans made sure of that long before Jesus was born. This is God’s will – to go to the extreme to get the point across.

As we prepare to enter holy week, look around. What messes are happening around you that you typically don’t stop to clean up? What are you choosing not to see? Maybe it’s a relationship with a sibling? Maybe it’s a project at work that you’ve been procrastinating?

Spend some alone time with the Lord. He will forgive what you’ve let slip, and you will get great joy from the encounter. Lent is our time to stop repeating the mistakes of the past and to great the world with a new sense of hope.

This meditation was written by Kim Elenez, wife, mother and media executive in Dallas, TX. Kim converted to Catholicism in 2012.

Jn 10:31-42 God Speed

Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent(Click here for readings)The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus.  Jesus answered them, “…If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the…

Jn 8:51-59 Taking Christ’s Word For It

Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent(Click here for readings)Jesus said to the Jews:  “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.”  So the Jews said to him, “Now we are sure that you are possessed.  Abraham died,…

Jn 8:21-30 Mickey Mouse Or Jesus Christ?

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Jn 8:1-11 Have You Become Annoying This Lent?

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