Monday, March 16, 2015

You Choose Your Friends

Matt 26:47-56   The Arrest of Jesus
The Scripture passage I chose to meditate upon was short, yet I stumbled to a halt in my musings at the very first sentence:
While He was still speaking, Judas came; one of the twelve
And I thought:  he’s still considered one of the twelve?  Jesus, praying in the Garden, knew well what was about to happen; He foretold it.  He dipped His hand with Judas at the Last Supper, and He said of Judas: “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born” (Mt 2:24).  And yet now here is the moment of betrayal:  Judas comes into the garden with the soldiers, to betray Jesus, yet this Gospel writer describes Judas as one of the twelve.
I want to say out loud that the writer is mistaken.  This Judas is no longer one of the trusted, one of the most loved, one of the hand-picked twelve.  No, this man chose to leave Jesus’ company.  He chose earthly treasures over Jesus.
But why, then, does the Gospel writer still call him one of the twelve?  Is the writer that far removed, that UN-moved, by the story?  Is he just some scribe, writing what someone else related to him?  He sounds almost like someone who doesn’t believe or understand the story he is writing.
This greatly bothers me, and I think: “At that point, Judas certainly was NOT one of the twelve.”
Finally though, I moved on.  Judas and the soldiers approach Jesus in the garden, and Judas then kisses Jesus:  the sign to the soldiers that this is the one.  And then …. Jesus said:   Friend, why are you here? (Mt 26:50).
Friend!!  Jesus said:  Friend?!!”  And my reading halted yet again.  I felt myself more agitated …
It was quiet, then in the chapel, as I pondered these words.  I looked up at the great host on the altar.  And I pondered more.  Friend.  And then thoughts came to me of other days, and other nights in MY life.  Sitting there in the heavens above, how often did Jesus look down at me and see my betraying Him by my actions?  And, was He agitated then, judging another, as I was tonight?
I think not.  That is not the Jesus I’ve come to know.  No, when I was far away from Him, when I almost forgot He existed, even then He looked down on me, in love, and called me friend.  Even then, when I was farther away than the Prodigal Son ever was, still He considered me one of His closest children, just like one of the twelve.  Through my sins, I left Him, but He never left me.
This was a good passage to meditate upon during Lent, as we approach Good Friday, when Jesus chose to die for me, His friend.
It is a good reminder that I must act like His friend.  I must make better choices with my life.  I must at least try to be that friend He thought worth dying for.  I want to live as He taught me.
I don’t want to betray Him, yet again.
            - - - - - - - - - -
It was very late night, early morning, and I felt extremely tired as I drove home, speeding way too fast through the dense fog.  When suddenly, out of the woods, out of the fog, there appeared a very large buck deer, its impressive antlers something that anyone would be proud to display ---- but I didn’t want to claim the prize this night.
My right foot did not even have time to twitch toward the brake pedal; he was right next to the road, right next to my car.  I couldn’t brace for impact:  He was there!  But almost just as suddenly as he appeared, he planted his right front hoof firmly and, despite his apparent speed, pivoted into a 180-degree turn.
My brain finally kicked in at that point:  Did I hear gravel spray up on my car as he struck his hoof down so firmly, so suddenly, so near?  Surely he kicked stones up from the gravel shoulder of the road.
But I didn’t know for sure:  I was past him.  It was over.  There was nothing to see in the fog behind me.  Nothing.  This was not my night to die, nor his.
I said a sincere prayer of thanks to my guardian angel.  I know there a people who don’t believe in guardian angels, but all I can say to them is:  Well, if you don’t want ‘em, send yours to me.  When I think of all the close calls I’ve had, I think I must be wearing mine out.
Yet still, I’m here; still, I’m protected ----- like a very dear friend.  And I’m glad He chose me to be one. 

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