Friday, July 27, 2018

Innocent Blood

When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus in order to bring about his death. They bound him, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate the governor. When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. He said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money.” After conferring together, they used them to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one on whom a price had been set, on whom some of the people of Israel had set a price, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.” Matthew 27:1-10 
We have all done and said things that later haunt us all our days. We try to do the best with what we know at the time, yet when the full truth is revealed, we can be made low by what we have done. I cannot imagine the sorrow and brokenness of Judas, but I can imagine he thought he was doing something right. I have made decisions for all the right and good reasons which have ended in disaster. In some of these circumstances, I was called a traitor and a betrayer. Those words are hard to live with for any of us, when we think we are helping a friend or community, only to be treated with abandonment, abuse and isolation.
Today in our Gospel we have a glimpse into the drama going on in Judas'  life. Matthew, nor any of the other writers of the Gospels, tell us why Judas did what he did. There might have been very good reasons that have been lost. He might have thought he was helping and was lied to by the religious leaders. He could have been told that very different outcome was going to happen to Jesus. Only hindsight is 20/20. Judas didn't live to give us the full story. What we can see and hear today, is that most of life is not binary, but a hazy gray mix and our decisions can come back to haunt us. We are invited today to be gentle in our judgements and understanding of others for we could make the same fatal mistakes when under pressure and feeling fearfully threatened.
Today, I ask God to help me be compassionate as I regard others. May we all try to understand how fragile we all can be, and how today's wisdom can become tomorrow's folly (or worse). May we all live this day with a sense of deep respect for even those who might be branded as unredeemable sinners.

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