(I typically don’t write a homily down, but at the request of some parishioners, this is my homily from last night)
Good Friday is about the Death of our Lord!
Good Friday is about the great expression of Love of our Lord, who showed that love by suffering and dying on the cross
Good Friday is also about the betrayal of our Lord
When we think our Lord being betrayed, Judas is the one who obviously comes to mind. The one who handed our Lord over to his enemies for 30 pieces of silver.
But as we just heard, Judas isn’t the only one who betrays our Lord. He was also betrayed by Peter, who denied him 3 times. Why don’t we call him a traitor?
And what about the CROWDS who last weeks were praising him and waving palm branches as he entered Jerusalem who are now screaming out, “Crucify Him.” Aren’t they traitors too?
What about us? Don’t we betray our Lord every time we sin? Couldn’t we also be called traitors, the ones who betray our Lord?
But I think the issue at hand isn’t only the sin/betrayal/denial – but also the understanding that one has of our Lord.
– Did they/we Really believe in him? Did they/ we really trust him?
– How did/ we understand our own sinfulness?
Lent is the time the Church gives us to focus on these very questions? During Lent, we make an effort to pray more, to fast, to give to the poor, to give things up, to abstain from meat on Friday, but to what end? Why do we do all these things?
These external practices are meant to aid the transformation of our hearts/minds, to cleanse us of our sins / to purify our faith in Jesus Christ. Hopefully, we are closer to him now than we were 40 days ago.
Of all the Lenten devotions, my favorite is the praying of the Stations of the Cross. We move around the Church pray before each of the 14 stations, marking our Lord’s journey to the Calvary where He died for our Sins.
Recently, while praying the stations, I was cut to the heart at the 8th Station where Jesus speaks to the women of Jerusalem. St. Alphonsus Liguiori who wrote a beautiful edition of the Stations wrote this for the 8th Station:
“My Jesus, laden with sorrows, I weep for the sins which I have committed against you, because of the punishment I deserve for them and still more because of the displeasure they have caused you, who have love me with an infinite love. It is your love, more than fear of hell, which makes me weep for my sins.”
I thought to myself, do I really hate my sins? Do I really weep over my sins? I know that I’m afraid of going to hell because of them, but do I hate my sins and weep over them because they truly offend our Lord? I think we all need to ask ourselves this question as we come forward to venerate the cross.
And here is where we can learn so much from the lives of Judas and St. Peter.
– Whom Dante Aligeri Places in the lowest circle of hell (along with Brutus and Cassius – Julius Ceasar (betraying a friend)
– I think he gets a bad rap… I think it is easy to look at what he did and condemn him for it.
– But we need to ask WHY? Why did Judas betray Jesus
o Really for the money… maybe
o Did he really not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, maybe
o There’s a thought that said that because he was a zealot, one who wanted the Messiah to be a great military leader and king, was trying to force Jesus into accepting his rightful role, maybe?
o Ultimately, we don’t what motivated Judas to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver
- We don’t know what motivates us to sin…
o But we do know that Judas recognized, albeit too late, the gravity of his sin
o I say he gets a bad rap because I think the betrayal of Peter was worse
– The fisherman, the close friend of Jesus, the prince of the Apostles, our First Pope
– Did he not betray Jesus as well, and not only betray him, but he did 3 TIMES!!!
– Remember what happened after Jesus was arrested,
o I Don’t know him, I’m not one of his Friends, I’ve never seen him before…
– I think Peter’s sin in worse because Peter was in fact a closer friend. Peter was part of that inner circle along with James and John
– Peter knew better, he had already made the confession of faith – You are the Christ…
– So what was Peter’s motivation? – Was he just afraid for his life? Was he concerned about the persecution that he would endure… but didn’t he just pledge his fidelity to Christ saying that he would follow him to the end…
So what’s the difference between Peter and Judas? Why is Peter a canonized saint and Judas not (that’s not to say that he is in hell; we simply just don’t know).
The difference is their FAITH!
– Recall one of Peter’s first encounters with our Lord – “Depart from me for I am a sinful Man.”
– Peter recognized not only his sinfulness, but also the infinite mercy of God
– Peter recognized that God’s mercy is greater than our sins
– Peter had true sorrow and hatred for his sins!
– Judas, on the other hand, maybe he hated his sin too, maybe he recognized the gravity of his offence against Jesus,
– But Judas didn’t have true faith, he didn’t trust Jesus or his message of mercy and forgiveness.
– I think we can say that with a certain level of certitude because of how differently they responded to their sins
– Peter went away and wept bitterly, Judas, in an act of despair took his own life, as to say, what I have done is unforgiveable.
Think for a moment of the joy that our Lord experienced when Peter repented of his sins (we see that in the encounter after the resurrection, do you love me 3x)… what great joy!
But also think of the pain that our Lord experienced when Judas took his own life, rejecting hope and embracing despair!
Which one of us here has never betrayed Jesus Christ? Which one of us has never denied Him? Every time we sin, we reject him, we deny, we betray him.
Think of the moments in our lives when we basically say the same thing that Peter did, that we do the same thing Judas did. Think of the times when we deny Christ for our own reputation, our own agenda, for our social status. When we are quiet about out faith so as to not offend anyone by our beliefs.
(I just heard the other day about something going on in the public school system here in Mansfield. Apparently they are making a change to next years calendar, calling Good Friday Day, Low Attendance Day – We should all be appalled at this!) The same is happening to the Holy Days of our Jewish brothers and sisters.
The Example of Peter, Judas and the crowds should urge us to really think about our sinfulness, and our fidelity to Christ.
Do we hate our sins? Do we recognize that our sins offend our Lord, do we fear hell more that we fear hurting Him? Do we want to hold on to our sins like Judas, and allow them to define us, or do we want to follow the example of Peter, and allow the mercy and forgiveness of God to transform our lives.
At each Mass, we give the Father simple bread and wine, he takes it, transforms it and gives it back to us as the body and blood of his only son… Well, when we go into that room and humbly confess our sins with true sorrow, he transforms our lives just like he did that of St. Peter…
The same Peter who said, depart from me for I am a sinner is the same Peter that said You are the Christ… the same Peter who denied Christ 3x is the same Peter who was asked by Christ 3x “Do you love me”
Peter chose to allow the grace of Christ to transform his life… Judas did not! What will you choose?