Was Judas Doomed to Betray Jesus?

rosesnearrunningwaters:

I wrote this post 2 years ago after a thought provoking discussion with my sister. As I listened to the reading of e Passion at Mass today, I thought back to this post and to Judas. As I went back to read this again, I realized how much of it still hit me and so I decided to re-blog this for some of my newer readers and as a repeat meditation of sorts for those who may have read it before. God Bless!

Originally posted on roses near running waters:

In recently discussing the scripture surrounding Holy Week with my sister, we got on the topic of Judas.  Why did he do what he did?  And did he have a choice?

Judas was one of the 12 apostles of Christ.  He was one of the people closest to our Lord.  So why did he betray Jesus?  When we look at the time leading up to the crucifixion, we see a lot of turmoil.  Riots had become commonplace events.  Those in power were struggling to prove to Rome that they had control of the events taking place. Jesus had already attracted negative attention by those who disagreed with His beliefs or who felt threatened by the power He held.  In Luke 22:1-6 we read:

“Now the feast of the Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was drawing near, and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking a way to put Him to death…

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Jesus Wept

During Lent we hear Gospel accounts of temptation, miracles, and eventually of the Passion of our Lord.  Hearing these year after year means we become very familiar with them,  Sometimes that familiarity causes us to simply go through the motions of our Lenten and Holy Week preparations without realizing the full significance of what actually happened.  I know that for myself, the Holy Week liturgies always center me and bring me face to face with the reality of what Jesus did for me and for us all.  But even before Holy Week, two little words never fail to remind me of the enormity of that sacrifice, 

“Jesus Wept.” (John 11:35)

Often we read the Gospel and are so focused on the gloriousness of Jesus being fully diving, that we forget He is also fully man.  In a mystery we may never understand, Jesus is God and man.  Not half God and half man; but wholly God and wholly man in every way except sin.  Just like all men, He faced temptation, He had friends and family, He ate, He drank, He slept.  He grew frustrated at times.  He felt joy.  And He most certainly felt pain.

When Lazarus dies, Jesus, being fully divine, know that this death is not the end.  And yet, His fully human nature is revealed by those two words, “Jesus wept.”  The loss of a friend, the grief He witnessed in Martha and Mary, it all affected Him in a very real and very human way.  And He wept.  

This seemingly normal reaction becomes more profound as we begin to realize that Jesus did not lose His humanness as His death approached.  Think of the Last Supper, the agony in the garden, and the crucifixion with the knowledge that He experienced all these things as man.  The betrayal of friends, feeling abandoned by God, suffering, and even death.  Jesus knows the pain we experience in this world because He Himself faced it.

Being fully human does not diminish His divinity but rather enhances it.  Jesus is God.  And God is not far off, distant, or unconcerned with us here on earth,  No. Our God is so loving that He sent His only Son to us as a man to show us the way.  To let us know that there will be pain and suffering in this world but that it is not the end.  

So if we feel lost or alone, like no one else knows the pain we face, let us remember that Jesus knows our pain.  He experienced it in a very real, very human way,  And as we approach Holy Week, let those words ring in the back of our minds as we recall His sacrifice for us.  God became man in Jesus and as man He felt every bit of that sacrifice.  For us He came into this world.  He lived.  He loved.  He suffered.  He died.  He wept.  

photo: “Jesus Wept” – James Tissot; Brooklyn Museum
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Whoever Believes

Today in church we hear the Gospel of Lazarus being raised from the dead. Our Lord tells Martha,

“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” John 11:25-26

Can you imagine the emotions of Martha at that moment? The past few days had been so difficult for her and her sister Mary. They felt saddened by the death of their brother and the fact that Jesus had not arrived sooner to heal him. Martha hears the words of Jesus being the resurrection and the life, and yet her heart did not believe that there was anything Jesus could do. Perhaps without even realizing it, Martha and Mary had placed limits in their minds of the power of Christ. When they saw Jesus weeping at the loss of His friend, they probably shared in the crowds questioning. If Jesus missed Him and loved him so, why did He not arrive sooner and prevent this from happening?

Martha says to Jesus that she believes in Him. Yet when Jesus goes to open the tomb where Lazarus lay, she cautions Him against opening it saying,

“Lord, by now there will be a stench; he has been dead for four days.”Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” John 1:39-40

And Jesus spoke to our Father in Heaven and called to Lazarus to come out…and he did! Against all odds, against all belief, Jesus performed a truly wondrous miracle and raised Lazarus from the dead! Oh the joy that they must have experienced at that moment! The seemingly impossible had become possible! Their perceived limitations on the powers of God had been shattered.

How often we place limits in our mind on the wonders God can do. We often look for human reasoning in response to the problems of this world. We use words like “can’t” and “impossible.” Our minds cannot perceive the enormous love, mercy, and power of God. And all too often we let our minds dictate our beliefs. We believe in what we see around us. In physical facts and proven thoughts. But sometimes, despite knowing God’s goodness and grace, we still question.

We still wonder if our prayers will be answered. We still shake our heads at the state of the world, thinking that there is nothing that can be done. We say we have faith. We say that we trust. But do we truly believe? Do we really believe in our hearts that God can do anything? When we pray and call out to The Lord in times of distress, is it cautiously, or confidently? Do we hesitate to ask for things that seem just too good to be true? The Lord tells us to ask we we shall receive! Do we truly believe that?

It is no secret that our prayers may not always be answered in the ways we feel they ought to be. Some things are simply beyond our understanding. But when we face difficulties in our lives, let us pray that our hearts be filled with faith and trust enough to know that not only does God hear our pleas, our cries, and prayers, but He can and does answer them! Let us pray that our belief in The Lord and His goodness is so strong that no matter what we face in life, we can truly trust in His love for us! There is no limit to the wonders God can do for us. He can perform miracles beyond our understanding. We only need to believe. To believe in the power of prayer; to believe in miracles! To believe that God has everything under to control. To believe in His unending love for us. For whoever believes will never die. 

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A Beautiful Reunion

I am a very visual person and the imagery associated with the mysteries of the Rosary  helps to deepen my prayer life and my faith.  This morning as I meditated on the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, I was struck with a beautiful image.  I’ve often thought of what a joyous occasion it would be for Mary to again see her Son in the glory of Heaven. The immense love, peace, and joy is beyond our comprehension.

I pictured our Blessed Mother running with joy to meet her Son.  The rising sun reflected off the snow outside my window enhanced my imagination as I pictured brilliant whites, golden yellows, and rosy hues of pink surrounding Our Lady and my God.  There was such joy in the eyes of Jesus and Mary and they both had enormous smiles on their faces as Jesus wrapped His mother in His loving arms and they were locked in an embrace of such deep love and joy to be reunited.  The image was so beautiful and vivid while still remaining dreamlike in a sense.  I smiled to myself as I imagined the joy of meeting Christ face to face.

I thought then of the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).  The joy of the father as he greeted his son who had gone astray is so evident in this story.  I can imagine the relief the son must have felt as receiving such a welcoming.

As I thought on these two images, I found myself identifying with each.  While I strive to live my life in as Christ-like a manner as possible, I am still a sinner.  Despite knowing the sacrifice my Lord made for me, I continually find myself seeking out His forgiveness.  Like the prodigal son, I feel such a relief at the grace our Almighty Father exhibits towards us all.  When I participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I feel the peace and forgiveness of the Lord wash over me.  When I receive Him in Holy Communion, I feel His arms wrap around me in a loving embrace.

While the prodigal son reminds me of where I have been, the sins I have committed, and the ultimate forgiveness of Christ, the Assumption of Our Blessed Mother reminds me of where I want to go and what it is I strive for.  I know I am a sinner.  I know I have made mistakes and fall short of my heavenly call.  How I long to live a life like Mary.  Tp be perfectly obedient to the will of the Lord even when it is beyond my understanding.  To be such a loving and faithful wife, mother, and follower of Christ.  To be able to accept all the trials that come my way with the knowledge that God has a plan for me.  I strive to have the faith and wisdom to echo Mary’s resounding “Yes!” to the Lord when He calls to me.

I know that I have failed at times.  And I know that despite my faults, my God has forgiven me.  But one look at the cross reminds me that my sins came at a price and that price was lovingly paid by my Savior at Calvary.  I do not want to continue to be the prodigal son.  I want to be like Mary.  I do not want to receive forgiveness only to rich back into sin.  I know that no matter how many tomes I falter, Christ will still welcome me home.  But seeing the love He has so freely given, I want to cease all sinful behavior and be a better example of His love.  

I am the prodigal son, yes; but I long to be like Our Lady.  I am a sinner; but I strive to be a saint.  I cannot get there without the love, grace, and forgiveness of God.   It fills me with joy and peace to picture the beautiful reunion to Mary in Heaven with the Lord.  My soul finds hope in that, by God’s endless love and mercy, we one day will meet Him in all His glory and share in that beautiful and loving reunion of Jesus our Savior, His Blessed Mother Mary, and all the Angels in Saints in Heaven for all eternity.

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Spring Will Come

Yesterday when I got home from work I checked the weather forecast for today: 52 and sunny!  Oh how wonderful that sounded!  I laid out my clothes to wear for work today with spring weather in mind.  This morning I awoke and hurried to get ready.  I grabbed my spring jacket and ran out the door only to discover frost on my windshield and tiny snowflakes beginning to fall.  By the time I got to work it was snowing in earnest and within a few hours we had easily accumulated an inch of snow to cover the ground once again in a blanket of white.  We all looked out the windows shaking our heads.  Where was the 50 degree sunshine we were expecting?  And as usual, we blamed the weatherman who gave us such an erroneous forecast to begin with.  But it wasn’t his fault.  

We become so fixed on our human plans, interpretations, and explanations.  We see the logic in the scientific radar and the weather forecast and so we take it as fact.  We plan accordingly based on what human reasoning tells us is appropriate.  And when our plans are foiled, we are left frustrated.  We look at the calendar telling us it is the first day of spring and we “decide” that the weather should follow along.  With the wealth of information available thanks to the internet, we feel that we have the knowledge to plan out every part of our lives. 

But the truth is we cannot tell the future.  We can plan and prepare all we like but sometimes when you least expect it, despite all contradictory information, it snows.  And somehow, though it happens time and time again, we are always surprised when our plans do not work out the way we had hoped.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

It is fine to plan.  It is good to prepare.  It is even better to pray.  Although we do not know what the future holds, we know that God is there.  His thoughts, His plans, His ways are far greater than our own.  Praying for His will does not mean we will suddenly have all the answers. Nor does it mean that we will always know exactly what to do next.   But by keeping God at the center of our decisions and prayerfully opening our lives up to what He has in store for us, we know we are in the best possible hands.

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

God’s plans for us are the best possible plans there could be!  Because regardless of what we may face, we know that His plan is filled with the hope of eternity in Heaven with Him.  His wonderful plans for us lead to salvation!  

We may not know what the weather will be like tomorrow, but we know that spring will come eventually.  And you know what?  Maybe those weathermen weren’t too far off in their forecast.  The sun is again shining and has melted the snow from this morning.  Perhaps spring is here after all.  We just need to be patient and wait with hope in the plans of the Lord that the sun will shine, the flowers will bloom, and spring will come again.

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The Verge of Broken

It’s the point right before a breakdown.  The point where you are still holding it all together but your mind is racing and you just don’t know how much more you can handle. It might be a hectic schedule, lack of sleep, deadlines, financial woes, relationship problems, or any number of things.  You deal with them as they pop up but they don’t seem to fully leave.  Instead, all these problems, the big and the small, pile up on top of each other until the weight is so great that just one tiny pebble of worry or a single grain of doubt will send you crumbling beneath it all.   It’s the verge of a complete meltdown.  The verge of feeling completely broken inside.  And the devil loves it.

The devil loves to see us piling on worldly trouble after worldly trouble.  He likes to see our lives become so hectic that we neglect time with God in prayer. He wants to watch us become so weighed down by it all that we feel broken.  Like a failure.  Like we aren’t important.  Aren’t needed.  He waits for us to tip over the edge and go crashing down.  And then he swoops in with his evil lies.  Lies about how we’ve failed.  Lies about God abandoning us.  Lies about where to turn next.

But there is One far greater than the devil and that is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  He doesn’t fill us with lies or drag us down, but instead lifts us up.  Instead of waiting for us to fail and watching us crumble, He reaches out His hand to us to help us through it.  To show us where to turn next.

One place we can always turn is the Table of the Lord.  Through the astounding miracle of the most Holy Eucharist at each Mass, we are experience the True Presence of Christ.  Not a symbol, but truly and wondrously the Precious Body and Blood of Our Lord. What an amazing gift we have been given!  Despite our sins, despite our failures, our Lord died for us.  Through Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament and through Holy Communion, we are able to spend time with Christ in a very real, very personal, way.  This time spent with God through the Eucharist is the lifeline that pulls us from the edge.  By attending Mass weekly and participating in this most sacred Sacrament, we renew our spirits and are pulled back to His arms.  The Eucharist is love, peace, and healing.  We may feel like we are on the verge of breaking, but our God will not let us fall.  We are never so broken that He cannot heal us.  

Life is full of troubles.  Some big and some small.  God does not promise us that this life will be easy.  But He is there for us through it all, waiting to relieve our troubles and lighten our load.  He comes to us through the wonder of the Holy Eucharist to fill our spirits with His love, His hope, His joy, and His peace.  The Eucharist contains a love so pure and so strong that it chases away the fears, the doubts, and all the troubles the devil wants us to dwell on.  Jesus cleanses our spirits, renews our minds, and refreshes our souls. The devil wants to break us down.  But the Lord wants to lift us up!  Our God wants to relieve us of our worries and troubles that weigh on us.  Our loving Father rescues us from the verge of brokenness and fills us with His wondrous and everlasting love.

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Marriage Takes Three

What makes a marriage work?  And not just work, but truly thrive and grow stronger through the years?  Countless experts will say things like conversation, making time for each other, and compromise.  While those may be good suggestions, the truth is that in order to have the best marriage possible, it doesn’t take just one, it doesn’t take two, it takes three.

 “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8

Without God, there is no love.  God is love!  Love is essential for a happy and healthy relationship.  Why else would you commit your life to someone if not for love?  Loving someone means putting their needs before your own.  It means making compromises and sacrifices at times.  Love can make you float in the clouds with light heartedness and joy.  But true love takes work, too.

We are merely human.  We think we know what love is.  But one look at the cross reminds us that there is a love so deep we cannot begin to grasp it.  A love that created life.  That sacrificed itself for us, even when we stubbornly refuse it.  The love of Christ is never-ending.

“For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

There is nothing we could do that would cause God to stop loving us.  Nothing that would separate us from his awesome and wondrous love.  Knowing that such a love exists, even while not fully understanding the depth of it, opens our eyes to the reality that we have so much tot learn about love. We need Christ to show us how to love.  We need Him beside us in all aspects of life, in our relationships, and definitely in our marriages.

Marriage is more than the “next step” in a relationship.  It is more than two people in love. Marriage is the lifelong commitment of love between husband and wife with God at the center of it all.  Marriage is not about “you” or “me.”   It is about “us.”  And for a marriage to remain strong in love, peace, and joy despite what life throws our way, that “us” must include Jesus.   With God at the center of our marriages, we may continue to grow in love for each other and for Him.

Marriage takes love, trust, faith, patience, and understanding.  It takes commitment and sacrifice.  It takes more than we can give on our own.  It takes husband, wife, and most importantly God.  Marriage takes three.

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