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Weekly Reflection

(02-16-2002)

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

It is once again the season of Lent and the next seven devotions will be a series on the Passion of Christ according to the book of Matthew. This is the first in the series.

Please read Matthew Chapter 26:14-35 in your Bibles.

Dante is being led by Virgil through Hell. They reach the lowest level and there they find the great demon, Satan. Lucifer is described as having three heads and in each mouth a sad soul is being tormented. Brutus and Cassius are in the mouths on the side. They face outward. In the middle mouth Judas Iscariot is being eternally chewed and ripped. His legs kick against Satanís chin while his head is forever stuck in the evil oneís mouth. Judas Iscariot has received the worst punishment of all because he was the one who betrayed the Son of God into the hands of those who crucified him.

I do not agree with Danteís assessment of Judasís fate. I believe that Judas would be more rightly placed in the vestibule of Hell along with the rest of the Opportunists. Their fate was to be chased by a great swarm of hornets and wasps that stung them continually. The opportunists are those who in life never really chose a side between good and evil. All that they ever did was motivated by pure selfishness.

Judas went to the chief priests and asked them what they would give him if he betrayed Jesus to them. They gave him thirty pieces of silver which perhaps amounted to four months worth of wages. The passage says that from that moment on Judas looked for an opportunity to betray Jesus. The chief priests wanted to arrest Jesus because they feared that Jesus was inciting the crowds against the Romans and that would mean trouble for the whole nation. They needed to arrest him, however, when the crowds were not around.

Judas found his opportunity when Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane in the middle of the night. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss and Jesus was led away. When Judas found out that Jesus was condemned to die, he goes back to the chief priests and throws the money at them. He then commits suicide. Did Judas want Jesus to take some action so he tried to force Jesusí hand? Did Judas think that Jesus would only be punished then released? Did Judas even think about what the consequences of his actions would be? No one knows.

What we do know is that there have been times when we have done or said something that we have sorely regretted. There have been times when we did not consider what the consequences of our actions would be. We have looked past our own noses. There have been times when we acted purely for selfish reasons in spite of the cost to others. Will we all end up in the vestibule of Hell being chased by hornets and wasps?

Have we made for ourselves on earth our own vestibule of Hell with swarms of worries and anxiety stinging us continually? Are we so concerned with what others will think or with how much we can grab for ourselves that all of our energy is expended and there is nothing left for others? Do the regrets and ďwhat ifísĒ weigh us down so much that all hope is sucked out of our lives?

All of the disciples deserted Christ in his hour of need. They all betrayed them. But Jesus did not let that desertion and betrayal have the final word. Christ came to them after the resurrection and spoke peace to them. He came to them and forgave them of their opportunistic ways. He came to them and empowered them with the Holy Spirit and they went on to be the Church of Christ on earth.

That same promise is for you as well. During this season of Lent take up the disciplines of Lent: works of love, prayer, study of the scripture, and fasting. God will work through these disciplines to open your hearts and minds to the needs of others around and you will reach out in love. The wasps and hornets of selfishness and regrets will be destroyed and you will have an abundant life lived in Godís love.

Pray that God use the disciplines of Lent to open your life to participating in Godís will for you and all creation.

Christís Peace,
Pastor Scott
412-682-6886

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