by Lindsay Schlegel
It’s Mostly About Him
As I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve come to realize that growth in Lent is more about what we allow God to do in us than in what we try to do in ourselves. I see that lesson reflected powerfully in the readings today. We see two people who chose different paths, though the option of God’s love and mercy was set before both of them.
First, we hear of someone who has unceasingly trusted in the Lord, who has borne a great deal to witness to the truth; in other words, the suffering servant, in whom we recognize the Christ. And then we hear the familiar, but the still painful tale of Judas—who, with Jesus Christ right before his eyes, betrayed Him. He found something he thought was worth more, and made what we easily condemn as the wrong choice.
Life Is Rarely So Simple
I can’t help but ask myself where I fall between these two as we approach the Sacred Triduum. Do you feel the same way? Are you asking yourself when in these last forty days you witnessed to the love of Christ and when you chose something or someone else instead?
Do you like the answers you have? I have had years where I wished I could have a Lenten do-over. I wanted to try again, give it another shot, make different choices—ones that looked a whole lot better in retrospect than they did at the moment.
The Absence of God
The marked difference between these two readings is that the servant calls upon the Lord over and over again:
“The Lord GOD has given me
a well-trained tongue…”
“Morning after morning
he opens my ear that I may hear…”
“The Lord GOD is my help…”
“He is near who upholds my right…”
And again, “See, the Lord GOD is my help…”
Judas does no such thing. He only asks what the price for the information he has. He looks only for what he will gain.
At the Passover meal, there is, to me, a hint that he already knows how far he’s fallen: “Surely it is not I, Lord?” Now he looks to Jesus for affirmation; now, he looks for a voice higher than his to confirm some truth.
But he knows the truth as well as our Lord; his heart is hardened, and it surely is he who will betray Jesus. Why could he not have looked for himself in Christ earlier? Might he have found something he didn’t like, something he wanted to do-over?
Maybe. But Judas would have discovered mercy, too.
What Judas Missed
It’s easy for us, from a historical distance, to say, “Of course Judas could have asked forgiveness. He could have confessed. He could have perhaps even offered himself in Jesus’ stead.”
But could he, when he was still relying on himself? He wasn’t looking for the Lord to be his help, to open his ear, to uphold his right. He was only looking as far as he could reach on his own—and it wasn’t far enough.
Though He does not stand before us in the same human, physical manner in which He stood before Judas, our Savior is still with us. He is in our hearts, in our families, in the Eucharist in every Tabernacle in the world.
He’s still calling out to us, wanting to serve us. To love us. To let the love of the Father live in and through us.
As we pray through His passion, death, and resurrection this weekend, let’s call on the Lord and ask Him to be everything for us that He came into this world to be: our Lord, our Savior, our King, and our God.
Though Lent ends today, our journey with the Lord doesn’t. I pray you and I both have the courage to suffer what He calls us to and to rejoice in the gifts He gives, knowing this is only really possible if we lean on His grace.
About the Author:
Lindsay Schlegel seeks to encourage, inspire, and lift up the contemporary woman to be all she was created to be. She contributes to a variety of nonfiction and fiction publications and speaks about recognizing God’s voice and living that truth. Find her book, Don’t Forget to Say Thank You, here. Connect with her at LindsaySchlegel.com or on Instagram.