“..they put fresh heart into the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in the faith..” as the football season comes to a climax not a close, two notes of encouragement from them to us..lets not get sniffy about the sources of good practice for our faith.. “when the going gets tough, the tough get going..” & what has been truly remarkable has been the come-backs..3-0 down & to win 4-3 with crucial goal in 94th minute.. for the times ..tough times. .we lose heart & lack the passion to come back from the dead let us ask for our Risen Christ’s forgiveness..
“..we all have to experience many hardships..” [ tough going ] ; Lord have mercy “..before we enter the kingdom of God..” not if but when we enter.. ; Christ have mercy “..they assembled & gave an account of all that God had done with them” …him them & us together.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
“..when Judas had gone..” once the betrayer had walked out..or was he pushed out?..John’s Jesus could get down to confidential business, offering the remaining trusties a new relationship through a new commandment “love one another just as I have loved you; you must love one another.” & could I suggest at very essence/heart of that invitation to a deeper intimate love is forgiveness..charity, “to forgive the unforgivable”which is why Judas, poor Judas as we’ve been led to believe, should still have been there..dare I say would have been there alongside his Master; Judas a role model for us, the one who got it badly wrong & had enough courage faith & humility to come back home remorsefully & ask for mercy & forgiveness. “& Judas, finding that Jesus had been condemned was filled with remorse” he took 30 pieces silver back to chief priests & elders “I have sinned. I have shed innocent blood” words & actions of a man of courage & conviction, faith belief sorrow& remorse..like the prodigal son he “came to his senses”..familiar ground as we too “find ourselves” our real selves again & make for home..sadly he got short shrift from voices representing Judaism, & for John voices of early Christian community..would it be..is it..any different in our Christianity today?..“what is that to us?..this is your concern” the cold shoulder, the dismissive look, the voice of rejection, no doubt put politely regretfully with due reference to the Code of Canon Law “Roma locuta, causa finita” [Rome has spoken, the matter is closed] do you know a victim? at least one casualty? our Fr Abbot comes to mind & heart..in his final moments of life, Judas cried out for acceptance, reinstatement, mercy & forgiveness..he was inconsolable, humiliated by his Master, abandoned by his fellow disciples, scorned by the priests of Judaism “& he went & hung himself” a man alone “when Judas had gone” for Judas in his despair loneliness & betrayal, was it a final tragic end, as we have been led to believe & we have never dared to question?..or was it a step towards eternal life?..where is he now? Judas, & your own Judas from your past? In hell, in purgatory, or in heaven? well ask your son or granddaughter if you are in any doubt.. by coincidence or the Holy Spirit, our 11 young disciples have been preparing for their first Confession this weekend; a week last Saturday at our class we hit choppy waters, whilst looking at forgiveness; one of group [ the nameless one ] was being mildly disruptive; 3 times I had to speak to them gently; 4th time I asked if they knew what a red card meant in football..to be sent off..they realised I meant business..there were 4 more incidents worthy of a straight red; for last 5mins of each of our classes we go into Church to Lady Statue to light a candle & pray for people we know are in need..whilst there in Church one of group reminded me we hadn’t yet chosen our “disciple of the week” the one worthy of our gratitude for word or action of thoughtfulness or good example..so I asked who they thought deserved the title that morning? & Lexi chose our Judas..8 times the nameless one had got it wrong..& I thought I was there on your behalf to teach them how hard it is to forgive “to forgive the unforgivable” & they, as ever, fresh eyed & open hearted, teach us in the ways of Jesus, meeting the prodigal son himself..this son daughter fellow pupil in Mr Jacob’s class at St Benedict’s PS “was lost & is found”..that’s what makes Confession like every Sacrament a celebration..a feast; sandals best robe & hug of a lifetime “I give you a new commandment; love one another just as I have loved you”.. thanks be to God we have a young Judas in our crew of disciples “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” they will all be at Confession this weekend, returning their 30 silver pieces..& when will you & me learn from their example & begin our journey home, not to the hard word & a black look, but to the warmth smile & intimacy of the Good Shepherd himself..desperately in need of the proximity of his sheep so that he can smell them..the smell of belonging & of eternal familiarity..the aroma of his favourite..not John but Judas..we are in familiar & good company be sure.. [ 5th Sun Easter Yr C Jn13; 31-35]