7 April, 2020

We need to avoid common temptation nowadays.

~ Pope Francis ~

Isaiah 49:1-6; Psalm 71; John 13:21-33,36-38

Look at what happened in the relationship between Judas and Jesus. Judas, the traitor, knew Jesus. He had been his friend for many years. He knew what Jesus was going to do that night, and where he was going to be.

 

Money drove Judas into forfeiting a relationship that he had with Jesus for many years. Jesus was no longer a real person to Judas, he became a means to his own wealth.

 

When we see people as things or as a means to our own ends then, like Judas, we are betraying their basic humanity. When those people are our family or friends, we are betraying the basic contract that makes human life possible. We all need places where we are safe, where we can just be ourselves. When we are hurt by those closest to us, we lose what is essential to helping us to be integrated and stable persons. What makes Judas’ betrayal all the more terrible was that he was Jesus’ friend. We don’t think, perhaps, of the soldiers or Pilate, because they did not betray their friend.

 

Betrayal can be the sorest and deepest of wounds, especially when it involves someone we love. It is why there is so much heartache around broken relationships. But when we betray someone we love, and they forgive us, we experience a tremendous experience of awe and gratitude. It is in these moments that our relationships can be not only mended, but brought closer together.

 

There is something about encountering a God of mercy and love that always shifts our sense of who God is and also who we are. We, as a church, are called to hear the painful stories of people like Nonang. As Pope Francis said: “How many are the wounds borne by the flesh of those who have no voice because their cry is muffled and drowned… Let us open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity, and let us recognise that we are compelled to heed their cry for help!”

 

With Pope Francis we pray:

 

“Lord Jesus, may we reach out to all those whose basic dignity has been betrayed, so they can feel the warmth of our presence, our friendship, and our fraternity! May their cry become our own, and together may we break down the barriers of indifference that too often reign supreme and mask our hypocrisy and egoism.”

 

Amen.

 

Catholic Parliamentary

Liaison Office

Jesuit Institute
South Africa

This reflection has been adapted from Have Mercy, O Lord! Daily Reflections for Lent by Grant Tungay SJ, Russell Pollitt SJ, Annemarie Paulin-Campbell, Puleng Matsaneng, Anthony Egan SJ and Frances Correia, & published by the Jesuit Institute South Africa in 2016.

Reflection prepared by

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ entered the Society of Jesus in 2005 and underwent the usual course of studies in his formation, which took him to such varied places as Canada, France, Ireland, Kenya, Spain, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Whilst working at the Institute, Matthew managed the background technical aspects of much of the Institute's work and was involved in the Spirituality work, completing the Advanced Spiritual Directors Training Course and the Spiritual Exercises Training run by the Institute. He is a member of Spiritual Directors International and was also a part-time lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St Augustine College of South Africa. He is currently the Director of Communications for the Jesuits in Southern Africa, based in Lusaka, Zambia.

m.charlesworth@jesuitinstitute.org.za @mcharlesworth
See more from Matthew Charlesworth SJ

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