Tag Archives: Christian

Betrayal

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John 13:30 So he (Judas) took the morsel and left at once.  And it was night.

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Judas, one of the original twelve, Jesus right hand man and treasurer.  So many of us know him as the one who betrayed Christ.  Yes, Judas was the betrayer.  Yet through his story, we are challenged to look at our own “judases” in perhaps a new, softer light.

Who among us has not felt betrayed?  Have we not all seen betrayal doled out to others in our lifetime. In my own family, we had a betrayer.  A supposed man of God, baptized and baptizer, treasurer of his church, well respected in every circle he ingratiated himself into.  Yet this man was a man of horrible choices and severe personality disorder who raped and pillaged the women in his midst. Who even in his dying breath was violent in that he killed his wife in cold blood because she suffered Alzheimer’s and then shot himself, rather than asking for the respite he most definitely needed.  Like Judas, a man, who through the many choices in his life up to his last breath chose the darkness over the Light.

In my Bible study today, I was reminded of this man from my past as we talked about Jesus, washing feet, eating one last meal with loved ones, and of course Judas and betrayal.  It is Passover, and Jesus knew that His hour had finally arrived. (John 13:1)  He had humbled Himself to become man to teach us a new way to be.  He had performed signs and taught of love and forgiveness. We find him in the upper room, ready to share what He must surely know is His Last Supper with these twelve imperfect humans whom He has tried over the previous three years to teach and strengthen and love. Judas is there among The Twelve, with his life of poor choices, self interests, and frustration at not being able to make The Son of God adhere to his whims.  Had Judas not recently complained when Mary, the sister of Lazarus, had anointed Jesus feet out of her love for Him and her foreboding of the changing attitudes that would only mean death for her Teacher?  Judas, who is about to make a very horrific choice, is to become the betrayer of Emmanuel, God Among Us (His creation).

So it is time for a Passover meal and The Twelve are at the table, reclining, dirty feet and all on the cushions set at table, waiting to be served.  Jesus, who in coming to us as a simple man and having disrobed His Glory when arriving here as a mere Babe to a poor carpenter’s family, arises to humbly serve His Twelve, in love and respect He takes on the humble service normally provided by the lowest of servants.  He disrobes and pours the water in a basin, much like He will soon pour out His Blood for the forgiveness of our transgressions.  Ever so tenderly, He takes each precious foot and begins to wash it and then dry it with the towel around His waist.  No one is left out of this washing.  Not Peter with his protesting nor Judas with his betraying nor those who most likely sat there in awe wondering if they were His favorite.

Has anyone ever washed your feet?  I’m not talking the pedicure you just received from the local salon so your sandals look pretty in summer.  I am speaking of whether someone you respect as a good man has taken your feet into their hands and washed and dried them with a cloth around their waist.  I have had this happen twice while participating in our church’s Christ Renews His Parish retreat.  The last service at this retreat is when our priest washes each participants feet.  When Father Paul washed my feet, I cried.  I cried because, who was I to have my priest lower himself and touch my stinking, dirty feet. I cried because I knew that it was my job to go out and wash the feet of others.  An overwhelming task of which I alone am not worthy of undertaking.  Yet, I hold fast when trying to humbly serve The One Who Sent Me to His Promise “I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in (me) will carry it through to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) Yet in our lesson today, Christ, The Son of God, The Messiah, The Savior of the World, Emmanuel, is washing feet of everyone, those who love Him and the one who will betray Him.

When Jesus is done with the foot washing, he arises and puts his outer garments on, much as He will put on His glory at the Resurrection.  He, The Teacher, who has given so much of Himself to the ones He loves, continues in these final hours to reach out to The Twelve to teach them a better way to live; a life of humble, simple acts of love to all, to the least, even to the betrayers.

Jesus then gives them a warning, a prediction, of sorts while feeling troubled that one of them will betray Him. Of course, none of The Twelve know of Judas stealing from their coffers nor of his hardened heart nor of his being tempted by satan and allowing satan to enter him.  They are confused and questioning.  Jesus does not condemn.  He does not bring to light in front of the others Judas’ sins in the past nor the sin he is about to partake in.  Jesus simply places a morsel of dipped bread into Judas’ hand.  Judas has been caught so to speak.  He must surely know that Jesus is on to him.  It is his last chance.  Confess!  Confess! is what I want to yell at him.  It is about choice.  Judas, you have the chance right now to make a different choice, change your heart and your ways.  Jesus is offering you with love and respect a different way to be, just as Jesus offers this to each of us no matter our sin.  Alas, Judas is a stubborn one with a plan of his own, and no willpower against the temptation of satan.  He leaves quickly and heads into the night, into the darkness, leaving the Light of the One who came to Save him behind in the upper room.  Jesus, the Light of the World, must surely know that all of The Twelve in the end will betray Him in their own way.  Yet, He continues on through these Last Hours showing love and forgiveness even unto His Final Hour.

So we are left with the knowledge that our choices will draw us closer to the Light of Christ or leave us wondering in the darkness.  Just like Judas, our life is made up of a multitude of choices every moment of every day.  These choices will culminate into the whole of our life.  A life, if we choose, of living in the Light of God or wandering in the night of separation from His Light.  “As long as it is day, (we) must do the works of Him who sent (us).” ( John 9:4 )  Those works include how we deal with our judases.  Are we filled with anger, condemnation, darkness?  Do we plot our revenge so that everyone might know of the hurt we have been dealt?  Do we hold that grudge for eternity?  I’d like to think that though we are human and prone to grudge holding anger, we might look to Jesus and walk in His Light of humble love and respect. It is not our place to condemn nor judge.  It is God’s place to judge with a Holy Judgment at the time He sees fit.  For God does not leave us to deal with our judases alone.  He strengthens us and endures our pain with us, no matter the situation.  He also provides us with an unending peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7) when we give Him the darkness and stay to the Light.

Though many were angry when the man in my family passed, I was not angry, nor filled with condemnation for him.  Rather, I was then and most days still am filled with an incredible sadness that he chose as an example for his life the same darkness that Judas chose.  So many choices he made could have been different and would have brought him despite his sin to Christ.  Jesus, who watched over this man’s life as He watched over Judas’ life would have welcomed both of them Home to Him had they only realized their sin and asked forgiveness from the Great Forgiver.  If Jesus had been willing to forgive them, then who am I to hold on to my unforgiveness?

Praying that each of you find your path to forgiveness with the judases in your life.

May you find Gratitude and Peace in every moment,

Joan

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To Be a Witness, If My People, Day 6

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“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

 

Today, in our If My People prayer pilgrimage Day 6, we are looking at those final words Jesus spoke to the disciples before he ascended into heaven to be with the Father.  Evangelization, plain and simple… We are to go everywhere, teach everything and baptize everyone.  It doesn’t get more forthright than that when looking at what Jesus asks of us.  If He knows that I am fully capable of going, teaching and baptizing, then why do I find this direction from my Savior so daunting and overwhelming.  Who am I to evangelize?  I’m comfortable in my faith and uncomfortable when forced to be anything other than a Catholic mom who walks the spiritual side in her life by attending Mass, practicing the Sacraments, raising her family in the faith, teaching Sunday School, going to Bible studies and writing in her blog.  I like the easy way.

“To be a witness does not consist in engaging in propaganda, nor even in stirring people up, but in being a living Mystery.  It means to live in such a way that one’s life would not make sense if God did not exist.”  Cardinal Emmanuel Suhard

 

Several years ago, this quote by Cardinal Suhard was printed on the back of our Parish bulletin.  I was so filled with joy when I read and thought about the meaning of this quote.  It seemed so natural, easy.  No street evangelization.  No asking strangers, “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?” No Bible Thumping. No propaganda.  Not even stirring

people up with insults and insinuations that they needed to get right with Mother Church.  Just simply living my life as a mystery… a prayer… in such a way that only God’s existence would complete my life and make my life story valid.  The most compelling way to share the message of the Gospel, the Good News of His coming, to bring wild hope to others, would be to live a conscious life for Him, to bring Him glory. Jesus came to redeem the assault of evil on our lives and to offer another way to live, filled with mercy, love, kindness for the least of our brethren rather than revenge, eye for an eye justice, and a harsh life of fulfilling man’s law in God’s name.  Somehow, this idea of evangelization seems more fulfilling, an easier way of following His path that makes sense to me when I see how He treated the least of His followers in the Gospel.  He did not judge nor condemn the sinner begging for healing.  How many times did He chose the more difficult aspect of healing His people’s faith through forgiveness?  “Your sins are forgiven.  Go in peace and sin no more.” A much more important healing for each of us than the easier physical healing that many of us have begged for over the course of humanity.  And yet, He lovingly and faithfully healed physical ailments as well. So it must be for each of us to find a way to live as a Mystery for Him through our willingness to show steadfast love, tender mercies, unabandoned hope, unasked for forgiveness.

Soren Kierkegaard: “All genuine instruction ends in a kind of silence, for when I live it, it is no longer necessary for my speaking to be audible.”

So we look at the propaganda that goes on in the name of evangelization and realize that many times it is not love, mercies, hope, nor forgiveness.  It comes down to the words.  Are you saying the right words with the correct tone of voice?  Are you saying the words loud enough and often enough and to everyone?  In the end, it truly is not about the words.  People will agree or disagree or be noncommittal with our words.  We must begin the hard work if our life is to relay the sense of God’s existence, to show our beliefs, values, convictions into our daily life; our worship, our work, the sustainability of our life, our interactions with others.  This is our witness.  As James said in 1:22, ‘Be doers of the Word and not hearers only.  Thereby deceiving only yourself.” To be doers and not hearers only we must do two things.  First, we must commit to a God Centered, not culture centered life.  We must seek out His Will and conform our thoughts, emotions, words, and actions to what we know He is leading us to.  Then we MUST respect the silence, the quietness with gentleness and kindness towards others.  We quietly go about showing steadfast love, tender mercies, unabandoned hope, and unasked for forgiveness to whomever crosses our path, #BlackLives, #BlueLives, #AllLives, #MuslimJewishProtestantHindiCatholicAgnostic………  We leave the judging and condemning to God, who loves us with a Holy Love and who judges with Holy Condemnation.  We become His living Mystery.

Praying that each of you may step out into Evangelization with steadfast love, tender mercies, unabandoned hope, and unasked for forgiveness to all whom cross your path.

May you find gratitude and peace in every moment,

Joan Marie

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Peace of God, If My People, Day 3

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Philippians 4:6-7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

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It is with a heavy heart that I begin my blog tonight for Day 3 of If My People forty days of prayer for our nation.  Sadly, as most have heard already, another heinous act of violence has occurred in Nice, France, during their Bastille Day celebrations earlier today.  A terrorist drove a lorry into people leaving the fireworks display, killing 80, injuring 100 with 18 of those in intensive care at last count.  Ismail Khalidi, an American-Palestinian writer, described the scene immediately following the attack in these words, “I’ve never seen a stampede like that. I have never seen that level of chaos and hysteria and terror and a total lack of information about what’s going on.”  Now, both presidential candidates are speaking of the US engaging in war against the terrorists though using different strategies.  My heart aches with sadness at the incomprehensible, unwarranted violence that we as a global community are once again faced with tonight.  Trying to make sense of the senseless and feeling the anxiety of “if them, then me.”  When will we start seeing this type of violence on our streets?

In my Bible reading today, I came across this verse Job 37:1-2At this my heart trembles and leaps out of its place.  Listen to his angry voice and the rumble that comes forth from his mouth.”  Though Job is describing God and His Majestic thunderous voice which brings marvels to all under the heavens, it feels like Job is describing the terrorists who we see across all medias with their angry voice rumbling, roaring their hate-filled, venomous ideology at those who are different than they. There is great evil in the world as we have seen in our country since terrorism began to effect us directly on 9/11.  And we tremble with anxiety and fear at it.

So we come to Him with our anxiety, our fear, our grief and tears.  St Paul says to us in today’s Word, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication…let your request be known to God.”  St Paul gives us a way to overcome our anxiety, our fear, our frustration with the way our world is going; we are to hand it over to God.  For He is capable of bringing great change to our world and unsurpassable peace to our hearts. He is aware that the world will have trouble, but we might have peace in Him as He has conquered the world (John 16:33).  So we humble ourselves and bow to Him, pleading for mercy, grace, protection.  Then we wait until we hear once “again His voice roar, His majestic voice thunder; He does not restrain them when His voice is heard.  God thunders forth marvels with His voice; He does great things beyond our knowing.” (Job 37:4-5).  As in Egypt in the time of Moses, God now hears the cries of His People in bondage to the fear of terrorism which is plaguing our world.  He will answer our prayers for an end to this evil and  He will bring us peace just as He freed the Hebrews from the Egyptians.

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We live in a world of great evil.  However, when I calm myself by being in God’s presence in prayer and spending time in His Word, I know in my very being that there is greater love, greater goodness, greater mercy to be seen.  I recall these words from the movie Love Actually, General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge – they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.

Though we saw once again a very disturbed man bring great evil to innocent lives, I encourage all of us to be anxious for nothing.  To come to God with our prayers and supplications and with thanksgiving give Him our fear, our frustration and our anxiety over terrorism and world events.  Knowing that when I give my God who is almighty all that I am, He will give me His peace, which surpasses all understanding and guard my heart and mind through Christ Jesus.

Praying for His Peace to wrap around each of us and the people of France tonight so that the God of hope (will) fill (each of) us with all joy and peace in believing, so that we may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13).

May you find gratitude and peace in every moment.

Joan

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Eternal rest grant unto them who passed in the terrorist attack in Nice, France, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace.

Amen.

You, Jesus, Complete Me.

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Philippians 1:6 “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6. God Completes What he Starts. Art Within the Ar

Artwork by Mark Lawrence, Copyright.  The Battlefield of the Mind Collection inspired by Joyce Meyers.

Giving my heart to him again and receiving his special words to my soul.  Music that made me dance and music that made me cry.  Witnessing that got to the heart of the matter of the struggle to follow His footsteps.  Quiet time to sort out my life and pray and find buttercups in full bloom in the grotto of the retreat center.  Reconciliation to give Him my sorrow over poor choices in the past and present and to find forgiveness.   This was my past weekend at our Parish Woman’s Retreat.

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Buttercups in the Grotto.

Sunday morning, as I entered the chapel, I realized that I had not yet signed the altar cloth and it was “last call” so to speak.  So up I headed, purple fine line marker in hand with final instructions that I could leave a message if I so desired with my name.  I stood pondering what message to leave on an altar cloth that will be brought back to the retreat year after year.  What words to write in this tiny little space that I found had not been written on yet….  It came to me fairly quickly.  The Bible promise that I have held on to since those early days of parenting and MOPS and not knowing what I was doing with my life and being filled with anxiety and struggles just to make ends meet while my husband finished medical school.  The promise that He would complete me, Philippians 1:6.  So I wrote on the altar cloth the simple sentence with a prayer that it would bless the other women present now and to come:

You, Jesus, complete me.  Joan Marie 2016

I headed back to my seat and waited for the big group celebration and then Mass to close out our retreat.  As they had all week-end, our group celebration began with a Bible verse.  Surprisingly it went like this:  “A Letter from St Paul to the Philippians.  ‘I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you, praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you, because of your partnership for the gospel from the first day until now.  I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. ..And this is my prayer: that your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception to discern what is of value so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.'” Simply put, it was my God promise that I had just prayed over my sisters in Christ not ten minutes earlier.

While I sat there contemplating the meaning of this “coincidence,” the group went on to sharing time.  Woman after woman bravely standing and speaking into a microphone sharing what the retreat had meant to them.  Woman after woman sharing their struggle, their lepers, their pain.  Sexual molestation, substance abuse, death…  I sat listening with my own struggles and heard that small, still voice saying to me “speak My promise to these woman.”  Alas, I am not so brave as to stand in front of just shy of 200 woman and be vulnerable.  I just could not bring myself to raise my hand, though I tried and tried to gather up the courage to say what I knew He wanted me to say.  For that I am sorrowful.

So I am here saying to each of you, now, in this place to take courage.  Do not see yourself as the leper whom others fear.  Do not look at yourself only through your pain and struggles feeling that you are the only one.  We all have pain and struggles.  We all have death and illness and abuses somewhere in our lives or the lives of loved ones whom we care for.  Suffering comes to all of us.  But He, the one who created us, bore our sins, and overcame the sting of death, looks down on us with steadfast love and tender mercies and He completes each of us.  He never leaves nor forsakes us.  He is in each of us helping us through whatever suffering this life brings by giving us whatever it is we lack to get through it.  I am small, weak, and cowardly.  Yet, with his merciful heart and outstretched arms, Jesus wraps Himself around me in those moments of suffering and weakness and completes me so that I am able to stand strong and brave and proclaim His love to all my suffering Sisters and Brothers in Christ.  He promises to do this for you as well.

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Praying that each of you can find the confidence to know in your very being that He who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus, as well.

Amen, Joan Marie

Flee to the Lord

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Mark 14:50-52, “And they all left him and fled.  Now a young man followed him wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body.  They seized him, but he left the cloth behind and ran off naked.”

It is Holy Thursday in this reading of Mark.  Jesus has just celebrated the Last Supper in which he proclaims to his most beloved Apostles that his body and blood will be given up for each of them as well as each of us who follows him.  Judas, the misinformed zealot Apostle has made his choice and gone to the authorities to hand Jesus over.  Jesus goes to Gethsemane to pray for his Father’s will to be done.  While there, he is handed over to the authorities with a kiss from Judas.  There is a scuffle and a miracle and suddenly the Apostles flee, distancing themselves from their Master, the one who has come to set all of us free through His captivity.  Now this is the part that gets interesting in Mark, where each of us can identify in some way.  Just three short sentences with an unknown character.  A young man follows the posse with Jesus in their midst wearing only his linen cloth, think underwear or loose robe.  Most likely his disrobed body draws attention and the young soldiers grab his cloth trying to seize him.  He flees as well in his nakedness and shame for all to see.

Who is this young man?  Some say Lazarus, who is wearing his burial linen cloth.  Others think Mark is making a brief appearance to show that he was actually present at the time.  Still others claim everything from the owner of the garden to the man who appears again at the end of Mark announcing our Lord’s resurrection.  Will we ever know the true identity of this man?  Is it important that we know who he really was?  Perhaps what is of more importance is to look at why the Holy Spirit felt it important to inspire Mark to include this unknown man in his account of the Passion of Jesus, note that only Mark includes this part of the Passion Story.

This young man causes us to think about frightening or difficult times, when we are asked to faithfully follow Jesus rather than running to those things which bring us comfort.  We have all had these experiences, though different for each of us.  The single mother who must find a way to put food on the table for her children and pay the rent with not enough money for both.  The teacher who struggles to keep the brightest children in her class challenged while encouraging the children with learning disabilities to try and keep up.  The son who must find time to deal with his angry elderly mom while meeting the responsibilities of being a husband and father to his family.  The teen who yearns to be popular but realizes how unsafe it is to follow the crowd into sexual experimentation and substance abuse to gain that popularity.  The missionary in the Middle East who lives with the threat of terrorism daily but knows that God is leading their life to bring His Word to this troubled part of the world.

We all struggle…..  And yet, we are each faced with a choice.  Do we leave Jesus and flee when the going gets tough?  “Thanks, Lord, but no thanks.  I’ve got it from here on my own.  I can take care of this problem better than you.  It’s getting scary and tough to be associated with the likes of you, Lord.  Sorry, but heading out to keep myself safe on my own.”  Perhaps, we head towards Jesus in the midst of our fear and trembling, almost naked, for all to see.  “Lord, it is getting scary here.  Time for a miracle.  I am needing a little help here.  You going to do something to make it better.  No worries though Lord, I’ll take care of this little area over here on my own.”  Yet, when they see we are looking to Him for our answer, we back away and run with our sin naked for the world to see, abandoning Jesus just like his Apostles and the young man in his skivvies did the night of Holy Thursday.

Me, I prefer to keep my  eyes on Jesus, clothed or otherwise.  “Lord, I am frightened here.  I don’t want to grumble.  I don’t want to die.  I have things that I want to do and see and be for You and Your glory.  Even when times get tough, overwhelming, alarming, I hold to Your promise that in the midst of all this mess, You ‘will never leave me nor abandon me’ (Hebrews 13:5).  You, Lord are my refuge so that no one may say ‘flee like a bird’ (Psalm 11:1).  I am strong and courageous as You have promised to always go with me  (Deuteronomy 31:6).  I need not turn and flee when frightening times come to me knowing that you are ever present (1 Chronicles 28:20).

So I take heart that when the others fled Jesus in his moment of great strength, which appeared to human eyes as weakness, there was this lone young man who ventured towards Him.   In his nakedness, he followed Jesus for as long as He dared.  And though he turned and fled when the world seized Him, I am sure that Jesus looked upon Him with great compassion as He does to each of us in those moments.  Knowing each of our hearts, with open arms, He claims over us His steadfast love and tender mercies through the most terrifying of times.  With this we know that unlike this lone young man, we have nothing to flee in fear from.   And so we run into his outstretched arms for the strength and courage we need to endure those most difficult times to bring glory to Him, our Master and Savior.