The Catholic Calendar for Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Wednesday of Holy Week
Scripture from today’s Liturgy of the Word:
Psalm 69:8-10, 21-22, 31 and 33-34
A reflection on today’s Sacred Scripture:
One of you will betray me. (Matthew 26:21)
Approaching Holy Week, I found myself thinking about the eternal fate of Judas after he had betrayed Jesus, and why his end might be different from Peter’s, who denied Jesus three times. Both betrayed, but only Peter appeared to be saved. Judas lost faith and out of misery, hung himself. What happened to Judas, I wondered? I wanted to believe God’s forgiveness covered his sin.
I began to look at the Judas side of myself, losing heart at times, reluctant to trust in God’s mercy. “Dear Jesus,” I prayed, “I don’t want to be a ‘Judas,’ especially at the end of my life. Let me be like Peter and choose love—let me choose You.” With that, I decided to visit Jesus across town in the adoration chapel, and found Him waiting in the gold monstrance. “Jesus, I prayed, please speak to my heart about Judas.”
I picked up my missal to read ahead to what I’d be writing about for today’s meditation, and immediately Jesus’ words became visible through the Gospel of Matthew—it was about Peter and Judas! I began to read, “Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” (Matthew 26:24) I couldn’t believe my eyes!
I opened my Catechism to find out more and read, “By despair, man ceases to hope for his personal salvation from God, for help in attaining it or for the forgiveness of his sins. Despair is contrary to God’s goodness, to His justice—for the Lord is faithful to His promises—and to his mercy.” (Catechism, Paragraph 2091) I now understood that Jesus would have given both Peter and Judas His forgiveness and love, but Judas couldn’t even imagine the possibility. I was overjoyed the Holy Spirit had answered my question directly and I left the chapel satisfied, promising I’d embrace His mercy.
Driving home, I noticed a car on the side of the road with its trunk open and flashers on. A young woman was reaching into her trunk, I assumed for tools to change a flat tire. I turned my car around to see if she needed help.
As I approached, I could see she was petite and impeccably dressed; not a hair was out of place in her perfect ponytail. Not the type who could change a tire, I thought! I got out of my car and as I came closer, realized her tire wasn’t flat after all. Her trunk was empty except for a pair of clean work gloves.
She put them on, and not at all put out, bent down in an effort to drag a huge, beautiful Canadian Goose [see notes below] out of the line of traffic. It was dead. With poise, she pulled the heavy bird by its feet and began dragging it to the side of the road. Given her size and the dead weight of the bird, I thought it strange she wasn’t struggling.
I spoke first, “I thought you were having car trouble.” Unruffled by the incident, she looked up at me and smiled, not surprised that I was there. She answered, “I was going too fast and with traffic heavy behind me, I couldn’t slow down in time and hit him.” I looked down at the dead bird, heartbroken.
As if to read my thoughts, she continued, “It’s okay,” she said with a cheery smile, “There’s nothing more I can do now. I’ll just drag him over here out of the way . . . and move on.” She had the disposition of an angel. It occurred to me that the event, unfortunate as it was, had not caused her to despair . . . like Peter! Each had acknowledged their fault and had accepted God’s forgiving grace.
My lesson continued as I imagined what I might do in this regrettable situation. Again I began to see the Judas side of me. But the Peter in her let God use her, trusting that things were perfect just the way they were. “God bless you,” I said to her. “God bless us all,” she responded knowingly, as she drove away smiling, conscious of the choice we all have—to forgive ourselves.
My encounter reinforced Jesus’ message that whenever I’m tempted to despair, I must put on my divine work gloves, “drag my goose” to the side of the road—and move on.
– Elizabeth A. Tichvon | firstname.lastname@example.org