Pondering for Friday, July 24, 2020

Daily Office Readings for Friday of Proper 11: Year 2

Psalms 40, 54 51; Joshua 9:22-10:15Romans 15:14-24Matthew 27:1-10

He said, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent* blood.’ But they said, ‘What is that to us? See to it yourself.’  (Matthew 27: 4)

Judas has betrayed our Lord Jesus.  He is sorry he did this.  He goes to the religious and spiritual leaders of his community for repentance.  There is no compassion to be found, no consolation.  He goes off and hangs himself.  Poor Judas.

What’s going on here?  First of all, the chief priests and the elders were, sadly, co-conspirators in the plan to arrest and kill Jesus. They were co-conspirators with Judas.  I ponder what made him think he could then go back to them for any kind of understanding.  However, what really stuns me is their response to Judas.  “What is that to us? See to it yourself.”  See WHAT to yourself?  They are in a hard place.  If they acknowledge that Judas was a bad actor, they must own blame themselves. But what they have done is to forsake one of their own people by not helping him find a way to repent.  Too bad that John the Baptist is already dead, Judas could have used him.  Clergy today have the same responsibility.  Often we clergy are called to reflect on any part we may play in the guilt of those we are called to help. The typical problematic areas today seem to be misconduct regarding money and/or sex. Like the chief priests and elders, Christian clergy today must remember, as someone once told me, “it takes sheep to make a shepherd, otherwise, you are just a man with a funny looking stick.”  The sheep are the most important part of ministry, no sheep; no ministry.

Ironically, we remember Thomas a Kempis today who had much to say that is so fitting for our theme today.  Thomas wrote: “When God bestows Spiritual comfort, receive it with a grateful heart; but remember that it comes of God’s free gift, and not of your own merit. Do not be proud, nor over joyful, nor foolishly presumptuous; rather, be the more humble for this gift, more cautious, and more prudent in all your doings, for this hour will pass, and temptation will follow it. When comfort is withdrawn, do not immediately despair, but humbly and patiently await the will of Heaven; for God is able to restore you to a consolation even richer than before. This is nothing new or strange to those who know the ways of God, for the great Saints and Prophets of old often experienced these changes. …Indeed, the temptation that precedes is often a sign of comfort to follow. For heavenly comfort is promised to those who have been tried and tempted.”To him who overcomes,” says God, “I will give to eat of the Tree of Life.”  (Contributed by James Kiefer at  http://www.satucket.com/lectionary/Thomas_a_Kempis.htm)

Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do.  John

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