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Jn 20:11-18 After Lent

Tuesday within the Octave of Easter(Click here for readings)Jesus said to Mary, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?”  She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him…”…

Mt 28:8-15 Fearful Yet Overjoyed

Monday within the Octave of Easter(Click here for readings)Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce the news to his disciples.Announcing the Good News.   ”Fea…

Jn 20:1-9 Get Out Of Here

The Mass of Easter Sunday(Click here for readings)Simon Peter…arrived at the tomb…and entered. The other disciple also went in…[H]e saw and believed.Do you believe it???  Do you know what this means??? 1.  IT’S ALL TRUE. …

Jn 18:1-19:42 The Passion Of Our Lord

Good Friday(Click here for readings)O God, give me the grace to accept my share in your Son’s passion.  Help me to acknowledge the harm I have done to my Savior and to my brothers and sisters.  I beg of you,…

Jn 13:1-15 Time For Some Symbolism

Holy Thursday(Click here for readings)…[F]ully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, [Jesus] rose from supper and took off his outer garments…and began to wash the disciples’…

Mt 26:14-25 Judas is me and I am Judas

Wednesday of Holy Week

(Click here for readings)

by Stephanie Juarez
And while they were eating, He said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, “Surely it is not I, Lord?”He said in reply, “He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me.  The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.”

Tonight as I was waiting in line for confession I read a quote from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who said, “Judas felt let down by Jesus and decided that he, in his turn, would betray Jesus. Judas was a zealot and he wanted a victorious Messiah who would lead a revolt against the Romans. Jesus had not measured up to these expectations.”

Wait…who was the Pope really talking about, me or Judas?

As much as I would like to say that I am more like Jesus and less like Judas, I know that would be a lie. Jesus gives without measuring. His love does not calculate anything, but endures all things. Jesus forgives and forgets. Judas and I- we like to calculate. We want to know the rate of exchange for everything. We measure exactly how much we are willing to give. And we definitely don’t forgive and forget as easily as the Lord. This is the reality of my sin. I don’t like it nor am I proud of it. But I know that I have to face the ugliness of it all if I am going to become another Christ.

I see now that the very thing that led Judas to betray Jesus is the very thing that has led me to betray Jesus. It’s that feeling of being let down. It’s the feeling you get when you pray and pray and pray but nothing happens…nothing seems to be changing…nothing seems to be getting any better.

You let me down, Jesus. So now I’m going to let you down!

As selfish, immature, and shallow as those words sound, I have to admit that I have thought them more times than I care to remember. Looking back though, I can see that my first mistake was thinking that the Lord owed me anything at all!

On Holy Thursday we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist- the sacrament in which He constantly gives His whole self to us, body, blood, soul, and divinity. There is nothing else apart from Him that we will ever need. And yet the Lord still wants to give us more! He wants to fulfill all the desires of our hearts! But most of all He wants us to be holy. He want us ALL to become great saints! That means He can’t always give us exactly what we ask for, at the moment we ask for it. And it is in those times that we have the opportunity to really grow in our faith. It is in those times of feeling let down like Judas that we have a choice to make. We can either choose to trust in Him and believe that “as the heavens are higher than the earth” so are His ways higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts (cf. Isaiah 55:9). Or we can choose to sell Him out and crucify Him with our sin. The latter is the easy way out. There is no risk there – no sacrifice, no leap of faith- only desperation.

I don’t know about you, but when feel desperate I start to grasp for control. Desperate times call for desperate measures. This is what happened to Judas and to Eve. They both felt like God was holding back on them in some way. Things were not going according to their plans so they tried to take control. But in the end they just ended up betraying God and hurting themselves. The irony of sinning in order to try to gain control of your life is that sin kills- physically, spiritually, emotionally- sin slowly destroys every part of you.

How many times have we sinned because we wanted to take control of our lives?

How many times have we sinned because we felt that God wasn’t measuring up…that He wasn’t holding up His end of the deal?

How many times have I chosen to sin in an effort to “get revenge” on God for letting me down?

If we are honest with ourselves, I think that we will find that we have all done those things way too many times.

“Love is not blind; that is the last thing that it is. Love is bound; and the more it is bound the less it is blind.” ― G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

Love always gives; it never seeks to take from the beloved. As we will see on Good Friday, love is a sacrifice. It is a total submission and a total gift of self. To be completely vulnerable and willfully bound to your beloved even through immense suffering- that is real love- that is the crucifix. The opposite of love, according to Blessed (soon to be saint) John Paul II, is not hate but use. Our Mother Mary knew what real love is- she gave herself fully to God knowing that one day her own soul would be pierced with a sword (cf. Luke 2:35). Even in her worst moments she did not think of abandoning her cross. She made it all the way to the foot of the cross, and that is what we should all be striving to do. We should all be carrying our crosses to the foot of Jesus’ cross. Judas ditched Christ and cross for thirty pieces of silver, but in the end he ended up paying a much heavier price.

My prayer for each and every one of us as we enter the Triduum is that we receive the graces to persevere with our crosses, especially in the moments when we feel that God has let us down in some way. I pray that we hold our crosses even tighter than ever before so that we have no hands free to grasp for silver- no hands with which to betray our Lord. But I also pray that if and when we do betray Him that we would run to seek His forgiveness and mercy in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I pray that we would all have humble and contrite hearts filled with the sorrow of Good Friday and the hope of Easter Sunday. I pray that we would not give in to the temptations of despair like Judas but that we would be like Peter the rock, always trusting in God’s infinite love and compassion.

Grace and peace be with you.

P.S. I humbly ask for your prayers as I will be going on a pilgrimage this Good Friday with a group of other young adults from the diocese. We are teaming up with some of our Protestant brothers and sisters from a local Evangelical church to literally carry our crosses from downtown Dallas to Plano. It is a 25 mile journey so we would very much appreciate your prayers for guidance, safety, and protection. Thank you!!


This mediation was written by Stephanie Juarez. She is a pro-life advocate in Dallas, TX and serves on the Core team at St. Monica’s Catholic Church. For more of her writings please visit her blog Lover of the Light.

Mt 26:14-25 Surely it Isn’t I, Lord?

Wednesday of Holy Week
(Click here for readings)

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
(Click here for readings)

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
(Click here for readings)

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.

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