“It is one thing to be forgiven; to actually receive it is another matter.” Anonymous
by Jean Dennison
As I get older, I find it much easier to forgive. I like to think it is a result of getting my priorities straight, finally! After all, in terms of eternity, how important is it that a friend might have hurt my feelings, or my sister forgot my birthday? Life is short. Time is too precious to “sweat the small stuff.”
But what about being forgiven? How does that play out?
We all make mistakes. We all hurt others, either intentionally or unintentionally. Are you comfortable being forgiven for something you have done to hurt another? Can you accept forgiveness and move forward? Or do you dwell on the wrongdoing and punish yourself with guilt and remorse?
One of the most familiar Lenten readings is Matthew 26:14-26, which addresses Judas and his betrayal of Jesus. When I read this story each Lent, I find myself wondering where it went wrong for Judas. Was he not one of the twelve? Did Jesus not find him worthy to be a disciple? How then is it that he is remembered through eternity as our greatest symbol of betrayal?
Was it for money? Did Judas betray Jesus for the money? In the first century, thirty pieces of silver was the average price paid for a slave. That wouldn’t have made Judas rich.
Could he have become disillusioned with the Master, disappointed because the revolutionary that he thought Jesus would be turned out to be just another rabbi and one who was talking about his own death all the time? Judas watched as Jesus became hated by the Jewish leaders. His hope for an overthrow of the Romans was dimming. Had he expected to be a high-ranking official in the new kingdom? Was Judas disappointed enough in Jesus to turn on him, knowing it meant his certain death?
I don’t know what his motivation was. After all this time, it may not be as important as the aftermath of the betrayal—the despair. Judas ultimately did not believe himself to be redeemable. Even after spending years with Jesus and listening to him preach about love and redemption, he did not believe that he could be forgiven. Perhaps, in that dark place, he flung himself to his death.
So as not to dwell in the despair of Judas, contrast his experience with that of Peter. Didn’t Peter betray Jesus also? Before the cock crowed three times he denied Jesus as many times. How is it, then, that Jesus forgave Peter and went on to make him the head of his Church? It was Peter’s great faith in Jesus and his teachings that saved him. He knew he was loved and would be forgiven. He had but to ask.
Two betrayals, two very different outcomes. In the words of Pope Francis, “The Lord will never tire of forgiving us. We tire of asking for forgiveness.”
Whether we are forgiving or being forgiven, accept both as a blessing.
Some thoughts inspired by www.atone.me
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