By Phyllis Murray, North District Lay Leader
Perhaps at first they talked of little things that spring evening. The upper room was dim with lamplight as Jesus sat with the twelve and remembered. Then quietly he said, “There is one here whose kiss will bring me betrayal by and by.” They did not look at Judas, but each man murmured, “Master, is it I?” Each one looked inward, frightened, lest he find shifting sand where he had dreamed of rock. None placed the guilt on any other guest who had partaken of that gracious meal. When hungry children dwell on my street, when I see tears or hear a heart’s cry because someone failed to keep faith, may I too murmur, “Master, is it I?”
– A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God by Norman Shawchuck
I never tire of reading about Holy Week and have been blessed to have had the opportunity to read lots of different takes on the events and characters from the stories told in the Gospels, and the Old Testament references to them. I have been challenged to put myself in the place of some of the people and try to determine what action or thought I might have had. Norman Shawchuck’s reference to Matthew 26:22 made me stop and think this week. He relates that he thinks the disciples each looked into his own life to see if betrayal lay there. I had to pause and reflect on that. It seems the current news is only filled with people pointing fingers at the other people REALLY responsible for EVERYTHING!
Shawchuck goes so far as to say they didn’t even look at Judas, but each searched his own heart. I immediately thought that could not happen today, at least not in the public world. And I hate it, but it doesn’t seem that much different in the community of faith. Somebody must always be at fault and it is almost always somebody … ‘else!’ But even when someone prepares to offer an apology and take responsibility for something, they somehow add how other people contributed to their poor choices. It seems part of our current behavior to immediately look for someone to blame. I am not leaving myself out of that characterization. I am quick to try to defend myself and my actions, even if I believe, privately, they are wrong. I too often find my strength is ‘shifting sand’ where I would hope for ‘rock’.
Shawchuck helped me to consider the one place I can’t re-direct attention is with God, for He knows my thoughts, my heart, and what my intent is. Could I be the one to betray him? Surely, we all think that after spending three years with the Son of God, we would be beyond doubt, but I realize that even with all I know about God, Christ and grace, I deny or betray him anytime I am less that what He asks of me. If it is my stance on issues, my lack of support for those in need, or even my silence when my words could help or defend, I know it IS me, even if I wasn’t there in the upper room.
I am spending some time this Lent trying to find those places where the shifting sand is in my life, and firm them up. I can’t bear to have to consider Jesus referring to me as causing Him pain. And I also do not want to be the one who might point at Judas when I myself am so guilty in so many ways. Cleanse my heart oh God.