My mind frequently wanders in church. Shocker, I know. In quiet moments of trying to be prayerful, my train of thought often strays, and like a dog that sneaks out the front door, it's at least a block away before I notice and grab the leash. Since graduating from Yale in May, one of its favorite destinations is, ironically, another church: Saint Thomas More, the Catholic Chapel & Center at Yale University.
John tells us that the Father put everything into the power of the Christ. God, after creating the world in love, handed over the world to His Son so that it might be saved by love. And Jesus, with the entire world in His hands, placed Himself at the feet of His disciples. Jesus knew that He had come from God and was returning to God. Still, He did not remove Himself from the world. Rather, He immersed Himself in it. No filth was too great for Him to wash away; no task was too lowly for Him to take upon Himself. He gave of Himself and asked only for love in return.
The Gospels do not tell us much about why Judas betrays Jesus. Over the centuries, many theologians and artists have offered their own explanations. Perhaps Judas grows impatient with Jesus’s style of ministry, expecting something bolder with quicker results. Maybe he realizes that Jesus’s clash with worldly powers would inevitably end tragically and wants to avoid the consequences. Or perhaps, in a moment of weakness, the thirty pieces of silver seem worth the cost. We do not know Judas’s intentions, but we do see that his decision leads him to further lies, deception, and regret.
We all know the feeling of kicking our legs furiously just to keep our head above water. And sometimes despite your best efforts, you can’t peek your head above water without being met with a rush of water that pushes you back down. At times, life can feel like that. It can be the crushing weight of a losing someone you love, the anxiety that sets in when a thesis or dissertation deadline is coming up and the amount of work seems insurmountable, or the burden of dealing with family conflict that can’t seem to be resolved. The Israelites, who suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Babylonians, surely felt this hopelessness as they toiled in captivity. But Isaiah assures them that God—who created the heavens and the earth—gives breath to His people. Just like the huge gasp for air that you take when you finally reach the surface, God fills us, restores us, and gives life to us. He opens the eyes of the blind and frees prisoners from confinement. He brings us from darkness into light, from Good Friday to Easter Sunday.