Thomas McKenzie
by grace alone


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On Wednesday night, I had the honor of leading the Stations of the Cross in our sanctuary. This is the first time I had ever led John Paul II’s “biblical stations.” I had a bit of sadness from missing a couple of the traditional ones, but I really love this new setting. Meditating on the Gospel narrative is so rich.

I have a tendency to get choked up during these sorts of liturgies. For me, liturgy is a living and active engagement between the Lord, the People, and my own heart. At the stations, this usually takes place when Jesus suffers some physical pain, or when he dies. This week, however, deep emotion swelled in me at the new Second Station: Jesus is Betrayed by Judas Iscariot. Specifically, I had a hard time with this sentence: “He came and immediately went over to him and said, “Rabbi.” And he kissed him.”

In this moment, Judas uses an expression of honor (Rabbi) and an action of love (the kiss) as tools of betrayal. He has the outward form of intimate relationship, but he denies the inward reality. He is, as Jesus would say in another context, a “white-washed tomb,” outwardly pure and inwardly rotten. As is always the case, here betrayal perverts intimacy.

The pain of being betrayed by a friend is something I am familiar with. You may have had this experience also. Some of us have also had the experience of being the betrayer. In fact, the deep truth of Judas’ action is that each and every one of us betrays Jesus. We have all, myself certainly included, outwardly pledged allegiance to Jesus while secretly rebelling against him.

I want to ask the Holy Spirit to convict me of the ways I have betrayed God, others, creation, and myself. And I want to imitate Jesus by forgiving those who have betrayed me in the past. I want this Lent to be about forgiveness and reconciliation.

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