27 March 2013

Just let it go

NB. Didn't get to preach this one. . .today's Mass was for the schoolchildren of St. Dominic's. I didn't know this. . .so, I had to wing it.

Wednesday of Holy Week 2013
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA

Just two days ago, Jesus allowed Lazarus' sister, Mary, to anoint his feet with funereal oil. A prophetic sign that his last week among us had begun. Yesterday, he sat at table with his most trusted friends and watched as Satan took possession of Judas, his betrayer. He prophesied to Peter that he would deny him three times before dawn. Today, Judas, in a moment of panicked clarity, realizes that Jesus knows who will sell him to his enemies. . .for the price of a murdered slave. “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answers, “You have said so.” Was he disappointed by this betrayal? Angry? Resigned to its inevitability? Even his warning—“woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed”—sounds a little weak in the face of such a monumental backstabbing. What are we witnessing here? The Son of God emptied himself to become the Son of Man—the first kenosis. Like us in all things but sin. Now, the Son of Man is emptying himself to make room for the sins of the whole human race: every sin ever committed, that's being committed, that will ever be committed. The week before his death on the cross is the week Jesus spent pulling our sins from us. This is our week to let those sins go. 

If you haven't found the courage yet to gather up all your sins and give them to Christ for disposal on the cross, let the events of this holy week harden your resolve to do so. Perhaps you think that confessing your sins is a sign of weakness? That receiving God's mercy and completing a penance is a waste of time? Christ spent his lifetime gathering up the diseases, broken bones, weeping lesions, and blackened hearts of men. He spent his thirty-odd years among us doing nothing else but going out and advertising his Father's freely offered mercy to sinners. Was he lying? Was he crazy? Even when his most trusted friends stabbed him in the back with their petty greed and fear, he kept on pulling in every dark moment of human loss, pain, madness, despair. Even when his own blood ran along the beams of the cross and his last few breaths escaped his lips, he took on the rebellion and thievery of Dismas. Perhaps your sins are greater than those committed by Judas, or Peter? Maybe your rebellions and denials are darker, deeper? If you haven't found the courage yet to gather up all your sins and give them to Christ, let the events of this holy week harden your resolve to do so. 

Reclining at table with the Twelve, Jesus says, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” Eleven of his disciples are shocked. One is not. That one says, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Is Judas being genuine here? Maybe he thinks that his betrayal isn't really all that bad. He's a hero for bringing down a heretical rabbi! Or maybe he knows exactly what he's doing but somehow he manages to set aside this act of treachery and pretend that he hasn't already sold his soul for silver. Judas is the model human sinner. Rarely do we boldly sin; that is, rarely do we act against God's will and revel in the act, daring the consequences. We are more likely to sin shamefully, then make weak excuses for our failures. Like Judas, we can look Jesus in the eye and say with false innocence, “Surely it is not I, Lord?” If we sin like cowards, then we must confess like heroes! In the face of fear, rejection, injury to our pride, we must lay a daredevil's claim to our disobedience, and then hand it all over to Christ. We are not forgiven b/c we deserve to be. We're forgiven b/c we are loved. Despite it all, we are loved and there can be nothing weak or small or shameful about returning that love heavy-loaded with gratitude. Make this week, this Holy Week, all about releasing your grip on sin. Just open your fists and let it all go.

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1 comment:

  1. Couldn't even make it through the first paragraph with dry eyes! Especially since we are heading off this morning to try out a new priest for confession. He's been offering confession twice a day " until everyone has been seen" for the last couple of weeks. I'm liking this guy already!

    Really liked this homily. Last paragraph was fantastic! Thank you.