An artist I know, an extraordinary young woman in her thirties, was happily tackled by the reality of Jesus and His Church after some serious chaos and confusion: addiction, abortion, abuse.
Her heart is especially deep, her prayer life more fearless than most. Her artwork is especially brave. She never shies away from asking some of the most difficult questions about evil and the meaning of darkness. Not darkness for darkness’ sake or to glamorize it in any way, but darkness for the mysterious and merciful ways that the Father brings about good, even from evil. How is that Jesus can make all things work together for good?
In today’s First Reading, we only get a few moments of Joseph’s story, feeding the starving brothers who betrayed him. How curious to note that this snippet should culminate in his tears. Overcome by his brothers’ betrayal, and "turning away from them, he wept" (Genesis 41:24).
In the Gospel reading, we note one of the first mentions of Judas as betrayer, even as Jesus is sending him out with authority to heal and drive out demons. It’s almost as if the Church is inviting us to spend some time dwelling in this very tension my young artist friend longs to understand: in the midst of unspeakable evil, God brings about the most astonishing good.
Indeed, tucked between these two readings the Psalmist reminds us that "the plan of the LORD stands forever; the design of his heart through all generations" (Psalm 33:10-11).
I imagine for a moment the design of God’s heart—what an extraordinary idea—and my place in that design. I am written into that design—and so are you, sister—through the grace of the Sacraments and the love of the Father.
God does not obliterate our past or our tears; He brings everything into His light. And through the forgiveness and healing of Jesus, we come to understand that the darkest moments of our lives, even the darkness of our sin, cannot diminish His love for us, but only become a part of the masterpiece that is His Sacred Heart.
Consider a novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, beginning today.
Liz Kelly is a jazz singer who fell in love with Jesus. She writes, teaches, offers spiritual direction and retreats with a special interest in helping women to flourish in their faith. She’s written six books, including the award-winning Jesus Approaches and the Jesus Approaches Study Supplement. And she still sings jazz, but mainly in the tub and while washing dishes. Find out more about her here.