In today’s gospel, we read about Judas Iscariot negotiating with the chief priests. Judas doesn’t pretend to be anyone other than a traitor. He goes to the chief priests to make a deal with them. Judas bluntly tells them that he will hand Jesus over to them. However, he will do this only if they agree to pay him very well for betraying his teacher and his friend. The chief priests are delighted. After all, 30 pieces of silver is a small price to pay for having this man Jesus given to them. Jesus had been a thorn in the side of the Pharisees for a long time. Judas then began to look for the opportunity to hand Jesus over to them. Can you imagine the shock the apostles must have experienced. When Jesus uttered the words about knowing he would be betrayed, the apostles must have been astounded. Did they look at one another in shock? Jesus was their friend and spiritual mentor. They loved Him. They had left their families and jobs to follow him. Why would they betray him? Yet Judas did betray him. Have you ever been betrayed by a family member or a friend? All of us have experienced betrayal at various times in our lives and in differing degrees. Some betrayals are small and therefore, they may be a bit easier to forgive. Other betrayals are life-changing. It may be that our lives take a completely different path after the betrayal. It also is likely that this experience may make it very difficult for us to trust any other person with our personal lives. Jesus understands betrayal. He was handed over by one of his closest friends and followers. Yes, Jesus is God, however, He also was human. He experienced the breadth of emotions you and I experience. Judas’ betrayal must have hurt him deeply. Judas was a man he had chosen and had trusted. Yet Judas was a man who betrayed him! The real sin of Judas wasn’t his betrayal; it was his rejection of God’s love. He refused to believe in the possibility of forgiveness. We should never imitate Judas. No matter what wrong we have done we can turn to Jesus for forgiveness and healing.
During these days of non-stop conversation and advice about the Coronavirus, we can become overwhelmed. So much negativity. I’ve bounced back and forth with negative and positive thoughts. Today we might wonder why others are getting sick and not us. I keep asking Jesus what are you asking of us?
Part of accepting what Jesus asks of us is understanding that the miracle we desire for our lives can occur. When we cooperate with God, miracles happen. Time and time again, in the gospels, Jesus encounters people and situations that are in need of His healing transforming touch. But if we reflect closely on those accounts, we see that Jesus doesn’t act alone. The people receiving the miracle are invited to participate. And not just invited, but their participation is necessary for the miracle to occur. Sometimes we think that God asks too much of us, as in loving all our neighbors. How can He ask that? We think He knows how that person lives and acts!
Oftentimes we wait and hope for miracles in our lives as though they were dependent entirely on the whim of God. Not so. We have a part to play in those miracles. There is an absolute faith in the power of God that we must demonstrate, abandoning all reason and believing wholeheartedly that God can indeed provide what we need. Doubt and disbelief are impediments to God’s power in us.
When tragedy strikes, whether personal, national or global, people often wonder how God could allow such things to happen. What can He be thinking? Is God really in control? Can we trust Him to run the universe if He would allow this?
It is so important to recognize that God dwells in a different realm. He occupies another dimension. In Isaiah 55 we read, “My thoughts are not like your thoughts. Your ways are not like my ways. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
Make a special note of the word like. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts nor are they even LIKE ours. We think, preserve the body.” He thinks, save the soul. We avoid pain and seek peace. God uses pain to bring peace. “I’m going to live before I die” we resolve. Die so you can live, He instructs. We love what rusts. He loves what endures. We rejoice at our successes. He rejoices in our confessions. We watched the basketball play with the million dollar smile and say” Be like Mike. God points to the crucified man with bloody lips and a torn side and says, “Be like Christ.”
It is vital that we pray, armed with the knowledge that God is in with us at all times. Pray with any less conviction and our prayers are timed, shallow and hollow. Look and see what God has done and watch how our prayers are energized.
This knowledge will give us the confidence to face the uncertain future. WE know that He is in control of the universe, and so we can rest securely. But also important is the knowledge that this God has chosen to bend near to earth to see our sorrow and hear our prayers. He is not so far above us that He is not touched by our tears.
God is for us. Not may be, not has been, not was, and not would be, but God IS! He is for us today, at this hour, at this minute. No need to wait in line or come back tomorrow. He is with us and couldn’t be closer than He is at this second. His love won’t increase if we are better, not lessen if we are worse. He is for us.
Knowing this, who is against us? Can death harm us now? Can disease rob our lives? Can our purpose be taken or our value diminished? No. We are protected. God is with us.
Let us remember and stake our future on the triumphant words of Paul. I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor ruling spirits, nothing now or in the future, no powers, nothing above or below us, nor anything else in the world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is Jesus Christ our Lord. Please know that you are loved and when He asks something of you, it’s not too much. Love Him back and do what He asks.