Dear Brothers and Sisters,
April 8, 2020
Today is sometimes referred to as Spy Wednesday, because it is today that Judas set out to betray Jesus. It is also a day that gives us a moment to pause to reflect on our own attitudes of heart.
Part of being a spy means that there has to be some level of deception going on, where we pretend to be someone or something that we are not. I think this is something that can happen quite a bit in our spiritual life. We can be tempted to try to deceive either Jesus or ourselves by trying to conceal parts of our heart or life. We try to offer Jesus everything that we have, while at the same time we are protecting parts of our hearts that are still affected by shame or despair; things that we have done, things that have been done to us, places that we are not ready to face. As we experience wounds in our life, we begin to find ways to try to cope or to medicate those wounds, which are often ways of sin. And because those have served as a way for us to be able to navigate life as best as we could figure out, they become strongholds that we do not want to relinquish. They are things that we may try to justify, or at the very least cause pause before handing over everything to the Lord.
But when we do that, it is like covering parts of our hearts with a cloak of darkness, hiding it from the light of Christ. We become deceitful, not by ill intent, but by a desire for comfort or control in our lives as we make a partially-hearted offering to the Lord. In this way, we too are being spies like Judas.
We know that Judas was with Jesus for several years, listening to the same teachings, witnessing the same miracles, and yet he still betrayed Jesus. There are a few reasons why Judas may have done what he did. He may have been greedy, desiring money more than friendship with the Lord. We can see this reflected in our own lives as we pursue material comfort and financial gain above spiritual things. How often have I sought to improve my own life unnecessarily at the expense of serving and helping the poor through charitable actions and tithes? As we encounter the generosity of the Sacred Heart, we ask that we too can be generous with ourselves and our own resources out of an abundance of love.
Another reason Judas may have acted in this way is that he felt Jesus was asking too much of him. How often do we feel the demands of discipleship are too much? That we just cannot forgive that person who hurt us? That we cannot pray every day or that going to Mass each Sunday and Holy Day is just too much when Mass was publicly offered? There can be this growing tiredness that creeps in as we feel the demands of the Lord and our love for Him become burdensome. But we know that the burden of Christ is light and easy because we bear it with Him. Even when we experience heart-wrenching trauma, that pain becomes sanctified and transformed if we allow Christ to be present to us in the midst of it. As we continue to push forward in our life with Him, we experience His light and grace.
A third reason could be a disillusionment that Judas had with Jesus. Things didn’t turn out the way he had hoped or expected. We experience this as well, as we think that somehow following Jesus may keep us from experiencing any pain or suffering. Or we think that it will always be an easy journey. Or maybe the Lord is calling us to places we didn’t expect to go. As we try to force our own way, we are again giving into a spy’s heart, where we are trying to manipulate the will of God for our lives, rather than approaching with with tender trust. In times of disillusionment, we want to continue to offer prayers of surrender, like “Jesus, I trust in you!” or “Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything!”. We can also bring these places into prayer by sharing with Jesus our disappointment and our struggles, and then waiting in silence to hear how He wants to respond to us.
I think it is helpful for us as we are on the cusp of the holy Triduum to take an inventory of our hearts and lives. What are the places of darkness, what are the places of shame, and what are those things that I still hold back from the Lord, whether out of woundedness, fear, or confusion? These are the things to bring with us on this journey, not to hold onto them, but to offer them in the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ as we enter into the Paschal Mystery with Him. In this way, we begin to open ourselves even more to the grace that God desires to give us, and to allow those places to not only experience Gods healing, but also His resurrected life.