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HOW TO FACE UP TO OUR GUILT

Father Francis's picture
Holy Week

Is. 49:1-6 & Jn. 13:21-33. 36-38

Another of Isaiah's beautiful Servant Songs is in today's first reading:

“The Lord called Me before I was born, from My mother’s womb He pronounced My name.” We know that the name chosen by the Father for His Son was Jesus, which means “Saviour”, because He is to save His people from their sins.

Our Gospel reading tells us about two men who made a miserable mess of things. One of them is Judas Iscariot, the other Simon Peter. They both behaved shamefully to Our Lord, but we have a totally different attitude towards each of them. We hold one in the highest respect; the other we remember with mixed feelings, pity and contempt. They were both forewarned by Jesus about their behaviour towards Him. I suppose you could say in Peter's favour that his crime was not planned and intended to save his own skin while Judas betrayed Jesus for money. But they both did wrong. So why do we respect one and not the other?

Both men bitterly regretted their betrayal afterwards, but the difference lay in the way they faced up to their guilt. Judas was filled with despair because he thought his crime was so great that it was unforgivable and so instead of asking for forgiveness he turned away from Jesus. Peter, too, acknowledged that his denial was despicable and cowardly, but he turned back to Jesus, knowing that he could be forgiven.

Through his despair Judas separated himself even further from God Who could have found good work for him if he had truly repented. Peter was reconciled with Jesus and so Jesus was able to use him as His chief apostle, and the rock on which to build His Church.

Like Judas and Peter, we have our guilt. How do we face up to it? Most of our sins are irreversible. We may try, like Judas, to undo the damage we have done, although often it is not possible. But it is a fatal mistake to turn in on ourselves and despair. We should try, like Peter, to look to Jesus and seek the forgiveness He has to offer. "Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, who like me His praise shall sing" … the words of the hymn sum up how Peter faced up to his guilt and how he regarded himself. No matter what evil we do, we must never despair. We should repent and, having been forgiven, we can put the past behind us and let God guide our future.

Lord Jesus, forgive us all our sins for which we are truly sorry, and help us in our resolve to try not to commit them again. Thank you for the gracious way You forgive us when we come to You to seek forgiveness.

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