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How Do We Respond to Our Failures

Homily for Tuesday of Holy Week

Holy Week offers us a unique experience with the Scriptures. All four of the Suffering Servant Songs are used during this week, one each on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. In the first and the fourth of these songs, God speaks directly to us about his servant. Today and tomorrow, the voice is that of the servant speaking about what God has asked of the servant. While we know that these songs were written about Israel itself, the Church interprets them as songs about Jesus, the Suffering Servant of God.

Today the servant ruminates about the fact that God called the servant from the womb. God’s intention in taking Israel as a servant was meant to be a beacon of light for all nations, so that all people could see God’s purpose; namely, the salvation of all people.

One might consider it strange that the Gospel which is paired with this reading tells us about two men who failed in the task for which they were created. Both Judas and Peter failed Jesus when they were needed most. We cannot place too much guilt on their shoulders inasmuch as all of the apostles, all of the disciples, with the exception of the women who sustained their mission, fled as Jesus was led away by his enemies. However, the Gospel focuses our attention on these two because their response to their failure was so different. Judas and Peter both fall. While Judas fails to get up from his fall, Peter does exactly that.

The lesson we learn from these readings is that each of us was born for a purpose. Each of us fails from time to time. However, cooperation with God’s grace makes it possible for us to rise up after each fall. God’s mercy and grace mean having the opportunity to get up the same number of times that we fall. How different the story would have been if Judas had followed Peter’s example and repented of his sin, if he had expressed sorrow for his sin. We probably don’t give this much thought. However, the truth of the Gospel is that Judas would have been forgiven, just as Peter was forgiven, if he had repented.

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