Heaven Beckons

First Reading: Isaiah 50:4-9A

The Lord GOD has given me
a well-trained tongue,
That I might know how to speak to the weary
a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear;
And I have not rebelled,
have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
My face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting.

The Lord GOD is my help,
therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.
He is near who upholds my right;
if anyone wishes to oppose me,
let us appear together.
Who disputes my right?
Let him confront me.
See, the Lord GOD is my help;
who will prove me wrong?

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 69:8-10, 21-22, 31 AND 33-34

R. (14c) Lord, in your great love, answer me.
For your sake I bear insult,
and shame covers my face.
I have become an outcast to my brothers,
a stranger to my mother’s sons,
because zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
Insult has broken my heart, and I am weak,
I looked for sympathy, but there was none;
for consolers, not one could I find.
Rather they put gall in my food,
and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.
I will praise the name of God in song,
and I will glorify him with thanksgiving:
“See, you lowly ones, and be glad;
you who seek God, may your hearts revive!
For the LORD hears the poor,
and his own who are in bonds he spurns not.”
R. Lord, in your great love, answer me.

Gospel: Matthew 26:14-25

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,
went to the chief priests and said,
“What are you willing to give me
if I hand him over to you?”
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
the disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Where do you want us to prepare
for you to eat the Passover?”
He said,
“Go into the city to a certain man and tell him,
‘The teacher says, “My appointed time draws near;
in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.”’”
The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered,
and prepared the Passover.

When it was evening,
he reclined at table with the Twelve.
And while they were eating, he said,
“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
Deeply distressed at this,
they began to say to him one after another,
“Surely it is not I, Lord?”
He said in reply,
“He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me
is the one who will betray me.
The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.
It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply,
“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
He answered, “You have said so.”



On some days, I walk around with a pierced heart, sullied from digging down deep in the mud. It weighs heavily, smeared with earth and dirt. And I rest with it there under the weight of my own fault. I rest with it in waves of shame and sorrow. I rest with it until my knees find themselves firmly planted on that wooden kneeler and the priest speaks the words to resolve my aching heart: “”I absolve you from your sins.”

It’s a horrible kind of pain, the awareness of your fault. It scratches at the walls of your heart while Heaven beckons you home. And I think that’s the worst thing about it—seeing, knowing, trusting the light but choosing darkness instead.

I suppose that’s why my heart is torn with both disdain and compassion for Judas Iscariot. I can’t imagine the torment that must have settled down deep in his bones when he denied Jesus. Part of me cringes at the thought of his transgression while the other part of me gets caught in empathy. Because we all have a little of Judas running through our veins, don’t we? We all sin. We all fall short.

But that’s not the end of the story, you see. Because though we run to darkness in the midst of our weakness, light is always there. Waiting. Calling. Nudging. So, may we recognize all of the places Judas lingers in our lives, and may we run to those words that sets hearts free: “I absolve you from your sins.”

[Tweet “Though we run to darkness in the midst of our weakness, light is always there.”]

Where does Judas linger in our life? Recognize these dark corners and run to those words that sets hearts free: “I absolve you from your sins.”

Brittany Calavitta is an enthusiastic advocate for a good book, strong coffee, and a hopeful heart. She currently resides in Irvine, California with her hipster husband and overweight Chihuahua. You can find out more about her here.

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