Rector's Message for April

Our congregation was recently invited to sign up for roles in the Passion Gospel for Palm Sunday's liturgy. Do you know which role was the most difficult to fill? It wasn't one of the main roles. Jesus and Pilate were taken fairly quickly. It may not be a surprise that the most difficult role to fill was that of Judas.

Let me ask you a question. What's the difference between the apostle Peter and the apostle Judas? They were both trusted disciples of Jesus. They were both in Jesus' innermost circle, chosen by him. They are both well known for their actions. Peter and Judas are two of the most noteworthy of the twelve.

Think about this: Peter and Judas both betrayed Jesus. Judas betrayed him for silver. Peter denied and disowned Jesus at his most vulnerable moment, not once but three times. Why is Peter a revered saint upon whom the church is built (Matthew 16: 18), while Judas has been one of the most derided and vilified figures in all of world history?

We picture St. Peter working the check-in desk at the pearly gates while Judas' very name is synonymous with betrayal and evil.

The difference between the two legacies is rooted in how they handled their mistakes. Judas does not seek forgiveness. He handles all the guilt of his sin all by himself. Peter, like Judas, admits his fault but seeks forgiveness from God and from the Christian community. Ronald Rolheiser writes that "we can do what Peter did after his great betrayal: weep bitterly and then return humbled, compromised, and scarred, but forgiven, and walk solidly back into life. In forgiveness lies the difference between the choice for death and the choice for life." Allowing ourselves to receive the gift of forgiveness, gives us new life.

Christ's victory over sin and death at Easter is the grace of forgiveness given to us for all time. Eternal life and the transformative grace of forgiveness are given to us through Christ's death and resurrection. At the resurrection we see a blueprint of our new life in Christ. Christ's triumph becomes our triumph. Christ's new life becomes our new life in him.

It is in the Easter moment when we receive the most amazing gift. And you thought Christmas was the season for gifts.

Alleluia, Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.

Blessings in this season of jubilant celebration!

Fr. Seth+