We are told that the Gospel story is not just “The Story" of Jesus, it is OUR story as well. We are every person in the Gospel story. We are asked to take a look at our lives and see how each character we meet, in the reading of the Gospels IS already present, within each one of us. Yes, you read right, each and every person of the Gospel, is waiting to be discovered, and accepted, within you and I. It takes a great deal of honesty to face that reality. Some of the Gospel heroines/heroes we are more than happy to embrace. We only too welcome the faithfulness of Mary, as she stood resolutely by the cross of her son. She who was promised so much must be one of the most deceived persons of the whole scriptures. She becomes for us, the example discipleship. We have the example of the crowds who so loudly cheered the entrance of the Rabbi Jesus to Jerusalem, and we just as loud in His condemnation. How easily we can cheer the contemporary presence of the Christ in His resurrected life, how easily we condemn that same Christ when He appears to us in his wounded, bruised, and broken self. How convenient it is become blind to the Present Day Suffering Jesus in the poor, the outcast, the immigrant, all those polite society turns it's back on, but in reality they are the apple of our God's and Father's eye. There is a terrible fate awaiting those who abuse, "the widow and the orphan”. These are the ones our God has chosen as His own. We in turn, must develop the same lens that God has, and to see these persons in the same way as God does. This takes conversion. This takes us being granted a new set of lenses. There are there for, take the risk and ask for them. With those new lenses we will see ourselves more clearly in some of the not so acceptable characters of the Gospel story.
We have to discover both the Peter and the Judas within. Yes they are both there. Both betrayed Their Lord. Peter repented, he cried rears of sorrow. Judas was not able to and committed suicide. We have the same decisions to make. When we sin, and we all sin, we now have a choice. To have a healthy sense of guilt, and say " I made a mistake. I am sorry. I will do better, with grace, the next time.” Then we move on. Judas was on the other hand unable to make this his own. He then was caught up in toxic shame, was not able to bring himself to the acceptance of God's love. That is what toxic shame does to us. It takes away the right we have to be loved without condition, restriction or reservation. We are asked, because of our sin or sins to surrender ourselves into the unconditioned love of our Prodigal Father. We go through that process again, and again ad infinitum. As we experience the mercy of God then we are lead to a place of deeper compassion. Rather than judge the sin of another, we pray they will encounter the same mercy and compassion we have been blessed with. We can even go so far as to say what a blessing our weakness is, when it brings us so much closer to the God of Jesus Christ. Our sin(s) have allowed us to fall deeper and deeper INTO grace. OUR FALSE GOD OF FEAR AND CONDEMNATION MUST DISAPPEAR. Then we can rejoice in the reality of us being beloved daughter/ son of our Gracious God. Judas killed himself fast, he hung himself. There are so many, many who are committing suicide slowly as they live their lives in the belief they are not lovable, or can ever be loved. Where they cannot sew the necessary love, then we are bound to carry that Gospel message, the message of good news. What is that, that they always have been loved, always will be loved, as long as they allow it to happen. For those who have been hardened by living loveless lives this is hard work. I am sad to say I have come across so many, many, you children who already have been hardened. They can only be tenderized through the miracle of grace. Their journey from the tomb of guilt, fear and shame is a long and difficult one. Let us not lengthen the journey or make the process more difficult by our self righteousness and judgmentalism.
On the road to Calvary the suffering Jesus met two very significant people. He met Simon, who was FORCED to carry the cross. He had no choice. Veronica responded out of compassion to reach out to the suffering one. Where are you encountering Simon, within yourself. Name the suffering Christ, that life has chosen to be the reality of The Suffering One in your life right now. Do you, or can you make that leap in faith to see the broken, bruised, beaten, and betrayed of the historical Jesus alive and so very present in what is so very difficult for you to handle. Reach beyond to seen, to the unseen and ask for the grace you need to be a source of consoling strength. God has chosen some very difficult and a truly amazing disguises. When we are brought through that process of grace, we will find ourselves being more and more like Veronica. We do not know her story. I would love to be privy to her conversion story. When did the transformation happen? What was the tragedy, and subsequent graced moments that that allowed to brave the crowds, and the Legions of Rome, to minister to a condemned prisoner? Where is the struggle going on in your own life, your family's life which is your process of transformation. The challenge is, of course, what do we as individuals, as couples, as families have to let go of, so that the same spirit who raised the historical Jesus from the dead can work the miracle of transformation and transfiguration. This again is temporal death leading us to the an ever deeper understanding of The Paschal mystery.