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Friend Jesus

by davesandel on April 4th, 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wednesday of Holy Week

Isaiah 50:4-6

The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.  Morning after morning he opens my ears that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back.  I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard.  I did not shield my face from their mocking and spitting.

Matthew 26:14-15

Judas Iscariot went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”

On this lovely Wednesday in Jerusalem, Judas is on thin ice.  He imagines that if he maneuvers Jesus into a corner, then Jesus will strike out and claim the earthly kingdom for his heavenly rule.  The Romans will be conquered in a single bold stroke, as Jesus takes the throne.

But oh, no, Judas, that is not how it will be.  Do not mistake your Lord for your adversary, the devil.  Jesus will not fight evil with evil.  He has said it again and again: he will be a suffering servant.  And he wants us to be the same.

Oh, that Judas could have been more transparent with Jesus.  Surely Jesus was a great listener.  I imagine Jesus sitting down with Judas and saying these beautiful words to his friend, inviting Judas to share his thoughts and feelings with him:

Here we are, Judas, you and I, and a third, the Holy Spirit, is in our midst.  There is no one now to disturb us; there is no one to break in upon our friendly chat, no man’s prattle or noise of any kind will creep into this pleasant solitude.  Come now, beloved, open your heart, and pour into these friendly ears whatsoever you will, and let us accept gracefully the boon of this place, time, and leisure. *

In the final scene of The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Jesus enters Purgatory and finds Judas, who sits curled up into himself.  Only an hour ago, Judas cursed and pushed Jesus away.  Jesus left, and now he returns.  He carries a basin of water.  He strips off his shirt.  With his shirt, Jesus begins to wash the feet of his friend Judas.  And the stage goes black.

Jesus washes feet.  The darkness, in which too often I allow myself to live, is nothing to him.  He finds me.  Strips off his shirt.  Kneels before me.  Begins to wash the dust and dirt and dung from the soles of my feet, between my toes, in and out of every inch of me.

Jesus is my friend.

Lord, in your great love, you answer me when I speak.  I will praise your name in song and glorify you with thanksgiving, and be glad.  (Psalm 69)

* Slightly adapted from the first dialogue of Spiritual Friendship by Aelred of Rievaulx, trans. Laker 1974.  Aelred wrote around the year 1150 A.D.

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