With Jesus by our side we will never run out of chances…
Day Thirty Six of Lent: Tuesday of Holy Week – John 13
“So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night” – John 13:30.
Today’s Lenten Reflection
In today’s reading, Jesus knew the darkness that had pervaded Judas’s heart. He knew also what was about to play out in real time. Incredibly, Jesus didn’t throw him out of the Last Supper; He doesn’t even try to talk him out of what he is about to do. Instead he says gently, “What you are going to do, do it quickly,” and hands him a piece of bread. We are told that at that moment Satan entered into Judas and that it was dark.
Anytime darkness enters into a soul by way of sin (rejection of God or His will), the world around it immediately grows small and more scary. So if this chosen one of the Twelve apostles who walked with Jesus and witnessed His miracles could get lost along the way, is there any hope for us? The answer is yes, there is, but we will have to work hard to continue walking the narrow path; or as the Bible exhorts: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12). In order to “work out our salvation,” clearly no easy feat, we need God’s grace daily. In other words, in order to ward off temptations and other breeding grounds for sin, we must stay close to Him.
With Jesus by our side, fear not! We will never run out of chances or graces. He knows what is in our heart and so long as we have a repentant spirit, He welcomes us back to him. That being said, we can never remain content in our sin and ungodly choices. We must strive every day to grow in virtue and holiness. When we fall down (and we will!), we must trust God; repent of our sins and trust in His great mercy. Rather than trusting in the love and forgiveness of Almighty God, what did Judas do? He fell into despair. Instead of accepting the Lord’s grace he rejected it.
Imagine for a moment the joy Jesus would have felt had Judas repented of his sins and returned to the flock. Imagine also the pure joy Jesus feels when we repent of our sins, amend our ways, and return to Him.
While it is not easy to admit our failures and shortcomings, it is necessary for healing. Similarly, while asking for forgiveness is not easy it is critical for proper growth. Author Lawrence Scupoli writes in The Spiritual Combat, “Sometimes we think our bad conscience is being generated by God, when in fact it is the work of the devil. Here is the way to tell … if your regret results in greater humility and increases your desire to serve God, receive it with gratitude as a gift from Heaven. If it creates anxiety, makes you sad, depressed, fearful, and slow to do your duty, you can be sure it has been suggested by the enemy … [so] disregard it.”
It is easy to see where Judas fell in this equation. Where do you fall today?
God of light, love and mercy, so often when we sin we hide ourselves from You – embarrassed of our shortcomings and weaknesses. But You know our hearts Lord, and You draw us near anyway in order to continue a good work in us. Thank You for Your forgiveness and Your patience; thank You for loving us despite our ignorance and failures. Help us to continue striving for holiness and perfect virtue; give us the grace to emulate You just as You exhort us in the Gospel of Matthew – calling us to be perfect just as You are perfect. It is in Your good and holy Name we pray, amen.
Today’s Suggested Penance
Pray today for the conversion of all who have turned against God. Pray also for your own soul that He would shower on you the graces to overcome sin and any other obstacle hindering your plight to holiness.
“The closer we are to the Shepherd, the safer we are from the wolves” -Jarred Wilson.