Thursday, October 8, 2015

God is love and loves you, no matter what

This morning I read Mark 14:43-52, which tells of Judas leading "a crowd with swords and clubs who had come from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders" (43). Judas' purpose was to identify Jesus and see that He was arrested. The signal by which Judas let the crowd, or mob, know it was Jesus was by kissing Him.

It's easy for us project our thoughts and feelings about Judas onto Jesus in that moment. I think it's important to remember that Jesus' disposition towards Judas did not change, even then. Jesus loved Judas, even in that critical moment no more and no less than He loved him previously. Why do I mention this? Because I think we are prone to doubt our Savior's love for us when we have sinned. I realize that this may be a case of me projecting my thoughts and feelings onto you.

God is not fickle, like us. God, who is a communion of love- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit- is always at work through the circumstances of our lives bringing about our greatest good. What is our greatest good? Union with Him, to participate, even now, the divine life of the thrice holy God, who is love. It is never a question whether of whether God love us. God loves you and there is nothing you can do about it. Yes, sometimes knowing this is excruciating. The relevant question is always, Do you love God?

All sins are not the same. Dietrich Bonhoeffer observed, "It is not the sins of weakness, but the sins of strength that matter." I think this is true. Sometimes we fail because we're weak. But sometimes we sin in quite deliberate ways, like Judas in his betrayal.

In the Act of Contrition we confess to God, "I have sinned against You, whom I should love above all things." It is so vitally important that we grasp this simple fact: Your failure to love God never, ever causes God, who is our Father because of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, to stop, cease, or temporarily take a break from loving you.

In St Matthew's Gospel we read that after betraying the Lord, realizing what he had done, Judas flung the 30 pieces of silver into the temple and went out and hanged himself (27:5). Think about how different things would've been, if, instead of hanging himself, Judas had flung the money into the temple and beat feet to find Jesus and express his sorrow, instead of deciding to take his own life, which decision was far more fatal than his decision to betray Jesus. I can only surmise that Judas concluded, in the wake of his betrayal, that Jesus stopped loving him. All we need to do to verify this is look at how differently Peter's denial turned out. It's easy to imagine Peter slinking away from the courtyard that night and never being heard from again.

Brennan Manning, that ol' ragamuffin, once that said that he believed the only question Christ will ask us on judgment day is, "Did you believe that I really loved you?" Knowing you are loved no matter what is the only foundation on which to build a happy life.

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