Day 95- The Mile You Killed Jesus

“You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.”

John 11:49-50

Image may contain: 1 person, text

This is the picture of one man. His name is Shannon Bennett and he is a Deputy with the Broward Sheriff’s Office. He is 39 years old. He contracted coronavirus and has passed away.

Pause to honor his sacrifice

Is it better that one man die than a whole nation?

The high priest, Caiaphas in today’s gospel reading does not pose this as a question but rather as a statement. In response to the Sanhedrin’s question about what was to be done about Jesus, Caiaphas answers, “You know nothing, nor do you consider that it is better for you that one man should die instead of the people, so that the whole nation may not perish.” Today, that man is Deputy Shannon Bennett.

The scriptures at times can seem distant, almost foreign to us. We are staring at a book, simply reading. We are detached and cold. We do not place ourselves in the words of the story.

If the scriptures are truly a living breathing instrument, why do we treat them as if they are dead or uninsightful? That they do not contain God’s words and warning to us, his prophecies and predictions. We are quick to trust CNN, Fox News and countless other man made news channels, but we are slow to trust the word of God.

Is it better that one man die than a whole nation?

Everyday we allow one to die. We place up one scapegoat. One person on the altar of death. We do not do what is right but instead do what is evil. 

I have lived long enough to know that I am an accomplice in the evil which seems to prevail so terribly in the world, even in the evil which might blindly strike me down.

Brother Christian De Cherge Last Will and Testament

We are Caiaphas, you and I. We are accomplices in the evil of this world. It is you and not me. It is the blame we place on others for our own sins. It is unforgiveness. It is the undesirable truth that we are downright evil people who hurt each other. It is the sin of man.

And like Caiphas, we offer up others to the scourging of the pillar, the walk to Calvary and the sting of the cross, rather than die to our own selves.

WE ARE THE KILLERS OF JESUS

Is it better that one man die than a whole nation?

As we retreat in our homes, refuse to do our part, blame others and offer no self-sacrifice, what are we doing? Are we offering ourselves up to God? Or are we busy being so self-contained that we believe this pandemic is somehow a pause rather than an awakening?

A pause implies a stop in time, an interruption. An awakening is an act of awareness, a rousing from sleep.

Is God a pause or an awakening for you?

Is He an inconvenience or a necessity? 

Is your life really your own?

Is it better that one man die than a whole nation?

He did not say this on his own, but since he was high priest for that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not only for the nation, but also to gather into one the dispersed children of God. 

So from that day on they planned to kill him

John 11:51-53

**Thank you to Father Dan at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Ft.Wayne, Indiana for inspiring this post today**

The Tomb of Silence

Thirty seconds in and I am terrified. I cannot control the racing of my thoughts. I am afraid to ask the question, God, what do you want me to do?

The question stands alone and cold. I don’t want to move from it. In fact I want to hide behind it. It is a shield, a fence that I am on the other side of. .

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak

I finally settle in. He’s only asked me for five minutes. But I am scared to go here, scared of what He will ask of me. It may be spring, but it is winter in my soul.

I cannot resist any longer. I sit beside my Lord and find myself beside the tomb. I cannot see Him. I cannot hear Him. But I know that He is there. How so? I have finally visited the grave.

Even in the silence I am working, He tells me. I am bringing souls to heaven. You can’t see it behind the tomb. It is only in the silence that you can understand it. Stay beside my tomb and you will see. Beside my tomb of silence there are great treasures to behold. See all that is going on! When in doubt, go sit beside my tomb. It is busy with activity. It is silence that comes before my resurrection. Learn to sit with me in silence, I have much to say here. There is great joy here. Silence before meditating on my Word. 

I settled in. I wasn’t so afraid anymore. The time had passed quickly and now I didn’t want to leave. But I knew I couldn’t spend too much time before the tomb, there was a resurrection to prepare for. So I opened God’s word and heard His voice. The words were alive because of my time beside the tomb.

He spoke to me about the seriousness of sin. That monster that waits to devour us. But this time I heard it differently. This time He opened the door to even deeper treasures.

Sin begins in the first thought. How will we respond? It lies in wait at the door in order to devour us. The devil tricks us into believing in an outward looking world, focusing on the sin of others and what others may or may not be doing. This then produces the ugliness and allows us to lose focus on our own personal holiness. But if we pause before we act, correct our thinking in our minds, turn inward instead of outward, we will remember our Lord’s beating. We will remember our Lord’s scourging. We will remember our Lord’s silence.

Like a lamb led to slaughter or a sheep silent before shearers, he did not open his mouth (Isaiah 53:7 (b))

It is in that moment that we can pause too. Sins urge is for us, but we can rule over it (Genesis 4:7). We can sin no more if we are repentant (Psalm 4:5). We can prepare the way of the Lord.

If I choose to sit beside the tomb in every moment that I am about to offend my Lord, I can remember all of these things. I can remember the silence in the face of accusation, I can remember the stillness in the face of a beating, I can remember His prolonged agony as he suffered for my sins.

Today, sit beside the tomb of silence

 

 

This Easter, leave the thorn in place

But to keep me from being puffed up with pride because of the many wonderful things I saw, I was given a painful physical ailment, which acts as Satan’s messenger to beat me and keep me from being proud. Three times I prayed to the Lord about this and asked him to take it away. But his answer was: “My grace is all you need, for my power is greatest when you are weak.” I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9

It is Day 38 of Lent and I am weak. I tell you this because it’s true. The Apostle Paul tells you the same in the very next words of verse 10, “I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me.”

I’ve read this verse a thousand times, it is a Christian staple. My brain gets in the way though. My thinking, my complication, my resistance to hear what the Holy Spirit has to say. I think I know better, I think I’m smarter. I am not. I am a garbage can of thoughts. I have an agenda. I am a mess of a human. And this, this has led me to fall on my knees in front of the altar of my God. He expects me. He expects me to do this as homage to Him. He knew I would fail. He knew I would be here. Nothing is a surprise to the King of the universe.

In my great anxiety I was exasperated, when God? when will the pain end? The anxiety is too much and I am failing you Lord. Many have told me I have no faith if my anxiety has taken over. That I am lacking. This continued to make me feel less than, a betrayer of the one who saved me. Am I Judas Lord? I questioned myself. And this brought me into an even greater despair. Such is the plot of the enemy.

As I sat in front of the crucifix at mass this morning my anxiety was palpable. It was physiological. I was a mess of nerves and sweat. Things were not going according to plan. But when I fell to my knees, the devil couldn’t penetrate the grasp of the Holy Spirit, He spoke that scripture to me.

I had asked so many times, sometimes from minute to minute for God to take away my anxiety, for God to take away my physiological response when things get tough. But God has refused me. I never saw it as something to give up on- I always believed that someday it would be gone. But today I heard a freeing truth- it will never go away. It can’t be prayed away, anointed or exorcised. It can’t be charasmatically eliminated. It is the very thing that brings me to my knees. It is the very thing that keeps me glued to Christ.

I bowed my head… yes Lord! Yes Lord this is my cross!!! It is not a lack of faith but a gift. Yes Lord it is all grace. And in that moment I accepted all of it- the heart racing, the sweat, the tears, the inability to eat, the rocking back and forth, the pain, the panic. It was all beautiful now. It was all a gift of God.

How could it have taken me this long??? Six years and thirty eight days into Lent I had a massive explosion. God had broken me. And I repeated Stephen Colbert’s quote in my mind,

It’s that I love the thing that I most wish had not happened. 

Our weaknesses are exquisite, they are not demeaning, or false or something to be prayed out. Rather, they are something to be taken in, accepted. They are the cross of Christ, the crown of thorns, the torn body. They are blood on my hands, my human betrayal and my failure to stay just one hour. And they are…everything.

Easter is coming but my anxiety will remain. I will not pull out the thorn in my side. It is a piece of the crown of thorns that keeps me in His arms.

Enough

I’m saying sorry over and over again- but it is not good enough for you. Man made perfect, you are perfect. I am apologizing for things that I did’t even do.

I hate you in my mind for making me feel this way. That I’ll never be good enough, brave enough, I’ll never be anything enough for you. Because that goal of what is enough is impossible to attain. You yourself are not even aware of it. What is your enough?

The words you say are spears and they’ve made a thousand and one cuts in the core of my heart. They are deep enough to penetrate flesh, they are deep enough to wound. The heart rests on the inside of the body and wounds deep are not visible- on the outside.

If you are not the God-man how can you say that you do not forgive me, even for a thing that I did not do? Because the gift of forgiveness is transcendent, the radiant face of Jesus, the blood of the cross and the Eucharist on my tongue, and you are not sitting next to me… in the pew.

Can it ever be enough, when will I ever be enough? My Heavenly Father seems to think I am enough…already. I am enough, even through all my faults, and spills and messes. Jesus is on the floor with me holding the rag, cleaning up the blood that I did not spill.

And though my heart is broken, His is too- for me and for you. That I am enough for Him and not for you. That my humanness is limiting. That my good is not good enough, for you. That to Him, I am walking towards transfiguration, making change, wanting Holiness, but to you I am defined by the sin that plagues   you..

Love is a choice. You can choose to love me, despite all of my flaws, and faults and irregularities. You can love me when I apologize to you for what you did, when I cover up for you and you blame me, when you tell me I am responsible for your sin and those of your father. And your father’s father.

This is Lent. A working out of my salvation. The voices in my head telling me not to forgive. The pain and the beauty. The little Easters. The desperately seeking Jesus. The seven times seventy-seven times forgiveness- without condition. The transformation inside me. The molding and the aching. The paying for the sins of another. The ugliness of your father’s father. This is the movement towards the cross. This is the cross. These are the rules of engagement.

Forgive, Forgive, Forgive

 

 

Do Not Fear the Cross!

Invitation to the Cross (His words to me)

“We must never say that the kind of sanctity, forgetfulness of self, love of the cross, self-immolation and so on-are not for us. That is our human way of looking at things. If God wants them of us, he will send the necessary graces; all we must do is to hold ourselves in readiness for anything that he may ask of us, and go ahead fearlessly.”

Dom Augustin Guillerand, O. Cart., French Carthusian monk and revered spiritual author

The question in my meditation time today was, when is the last time that you were happy? Such an odd question for Day 2 of Lent, when I was expecting the scourging at the pillar. But this Lent has been different for me, very different, as I had already spent my time in the desert prior to entering this Lenten season.

Instead, I felt Ash Wednesday as an opening. There was joy instead of pain, peace instead of sorrow. My foot entered the door of His kingdom and crossed over into an infinite threshold. There was no fire, or brimstone or darkness, but only light; light in my vision, in my body and in my soul. It was almost as if I entered heaven.

But how could this be? Was I not destined to be thrown into the darkness for self-evaluation, state of consciousness and penance? Yes all those things are important. But why had I entered the gates of eternal freedom?

Because, the Lord said, you have chosen the cross

In two or so months of suffering, it wasn’t until a single moment leading up to Lent that I sat with myself and decided to make that choice. I had had enough suffering, and I was willingly ready to hop on that cross. But if I chose death, would he give me life? It was worth the chance…

My soul is sorrowful even to death

When I gave up my soul to the cross, the tears ran dry. I could still feel every inch of the pain; but that was until I crossed over to the other side. And as I slid  into my spiritual death, the pain, the willingness to give it all to Him, the suffering suddenly stopped. I was inside the book of Revelation; He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning, or crying or pain…and there wasn’t. 

The cross was true to it’s word- it did not fail me. I could only feel the splinters but for a second.

And suddenly my great pain turned into great joy, and my mourning to turned into dancing! The welcomed cross, the humble cross, the needed cross.

Choose life, God said, by choosing death

What a strange dichotomy. What an absolute wrecking of soul. But He is the God of the living, not the dead. And I praise the cross of His execution every time I get down on my knees.

O great physician of the soul! Oh great Master! May I die to self a thousand times a day to feel your infinite love!

“When I cried to the Lord, he heard my voice; he rescued me from those who attack me. Entrust your cares to the Lord, and he will support you.”

Psalm 55; A Lament over Betrayal