Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Reflections on Today's Gospel: Tuesday, March 26

At the beginning of Lent, on the first Sunday, the Gospel reading told us of the Devil's temptations of Jesus: "Turn stones into bread", "Throw yourself off the parapet", and "Worship me and these Kingdoms are yours".  Jesus fought them all, and won, and the Devil went away "for a while".

Today, in the Gospel passage about the Last Supper, we can see that the Devil is back.  He is a cunning fighter, and this time, he's not going after Jesus, but rather those close to him: namely Judas and Peter.  It's the next step in the battle against Christ; if the Devil can't hurt Jesus, he can certainly hurt those around him.  And yet, Jesus is not defeated, because he sees beyond the battles to the whole war.

The word that ties both readings together is "glory".  Isaiah tells the story of the servant sent by God to restore glory to Israel.  Jesus is about to be beaten, humiliated, tortured, killed, and yet glorified.  Neither will be easy.  It's not easy to be a Catholic, if all we want is a good time.  But glory is found in the fight, even when popular opinion is against us.

Look at how Facebook is inundated with these equal signs, showing support for same-sex marriage.  Who can be mad at an equal sign?  It's the perfect symbol, though my inner math-geek says the congruent sign would be a more accurate logo.

To some extent, the gay community has a valid argument.  But not so much because the love of 2 men or 2 women can be exalted as a "marriage"; their argument has validity because more and more today, many marriages between a man and a woman have such lowered expectations and are so watered down, so superficial, and so non-committal that they may as well be civil unions.

The Scribes and Pharisees were the moral compasses of their time; their elite class claimed to show Judaism how one was to live in right relationship with God.  Then along comes Jesus, who challenges their authority and begins to poach at their flock with talk like, "You have heard it said..., but I say to you... ".  You can bet those who abandoned the Pharisees in favor of Jesus were called all sorts of names: "traitor", "hater", etc.

It's easy to be a Catholic when a new Pope is standing on a balcony and he's smiling and waving and seems like a nice guy.  It's easy to be a Catholic when you get, as it were, palms stuffed into your palms.  But it's hard to be a Catholic in standing for the truth even when the world will call you names like "bigot" and "homophobe" and accuse us of hate, all in an effort to get us to keep silent (or at least confused).

Feeling down because you're not willing to change your Facebook profile picture to an equal sign?  You're not alone.  Peter is the perfect patron saint of caving into the crowd's whim, just to get them off your back. Judas, though, he's got more to answer for.  He's not only doing what the crowd wants; on the inside, he has come to think that it's the right thing to do.  Only after the fact, when the deed is done and realizes both what he has done and how it cannot be changed, does he despair of his choices to the point of suicide.

Holy Week continues, and the time for Jesus' Passion is getting closer and closer.  Will we stay or will we run?

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