Divine Mercy Articles

Trust that He is truly Merciful to Repentant Souls

Seeking mercy in the wrong places - New life comes from Christ 

by Fr. John Harris

Judas Iscariot

One of the most tragic stories in the whole of Christianity is the story of Judas Iscariot. He was one of the Lord’s closest disciples and the one who led the troops to arrest him in the garden. Judas was the one who pointed out Jesus in the dark of the evening. The great role of the apostle is to point the way to the Lord, Judas did it, but not in the way of a true disciple. The ways of the devil always caricature and mimic the ways of the Lord.

There are many questions regarding why Judas betrayed the Lord. Was it just for the money? The answers are known only to Judas and the Lord. It’s a waste of our time trying to understand the why but we can learn some very valuable lessons from the way he reacted once he realised his sin.

We do know from St. Matthew’s account of the event that Judas hadn’t planned on Jesus being put to death. Once he realised what was going on he tried to stop the whole affair. The Gospel recounts that when Judas realised that the Lord had been condemned to death, he repented and brought the thirty pieces of silver back to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood”. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. (Matthew 27: 3-5)

The Gospel is clear that he repented of what he had done and in his words we can hear the clear echo of the prodigal son returning to his father and saying “I have sinned”. But Judas went to the wrong place and for the wrong reason.

All of the disciples had deserted the Lord

If Judas had gone back to the Upper Room and joined with Mary and the other disciples, then all would have been well. All of the disciples had deserted the Lord except the beloved disciple and it was Mary who kept him faithful (as she does for us all). They all had sinned, maybe not as seriously as Judas but none the less they had all deserted Jesus in his moment of terror. Like us, they all lived in the glass houses of their own weaknesses and fears. All of them had returned to the Upper Room wounded by their parts in the events of the Lord’s arrest and trial.

Judas didn’t return to the company of the Church for forgiveness and healing. He went back to the place of his own sin. How often when faced with our own sinfulness, weaknesses and failures, do we go looking for help in the wrong places? We turn to drink or drugs and try to blot out the past. Or we try to make ourselves believe that it was all okay to begin with. We tell ourselves lies. Or we go to people who are offering us quick solutions and self-help schemes when all the time the loving mercy of the Lord awaits for us in the communion of the Holy Church.

The Sacred Sacraments of the Catholic Church

Only in the sacraments of the Church can we receive the true healing and forgiveness we need. All other helps fail, while some of them may be helpful yet they fail to fully heal and forgive. Only in the company of Christ can we achieve the healing and forgiveness we truly need and desire.

In the blood and water that flows from the Image of Divine Mercy, we see powerfully the Lord telling us that mercy flows from the sacraments of the Church. From the blood and water that flowed from the open heart of Jesus on the Cross, the font of the sacramental life of the Church, comes the only true and lasting healing and freedom. New life comes from Christ.

Can't Turn Back the Clock

Not only did Judas go to the wrong place, he also went seeking the wrong solution. He thought that he could in some way turn back the clock. That he was still in control. But he had lost that control. He did lead the troops to Jesus but the moment he kissed the Lord, (again a caricature of the kiss which is meant to be a sign of friendship and trust becomes a betrayal) he lost all control and events took over. This happens in all our lives when we sin.

We think we are in control but once sin takes over, then we are no longer in control; sin becomes our master. But we like Judas want still to be in control, we want to try and turn back the clock, we want to makes things right. When faced with situations, we never anticipated, we try to manipulate events and to our horror we discover we are powerless.

You can despair OR you can trust He is truly Merciful to repenting souls

What are we to do when we are no longer the ones in charge? We can despair, as Judas did, or we turn to Jesus seeking mercy. In His mercy, we come to discover that we don’t have to make things right, we can’t turn the clock back but in Christ’s mercy, we discover we don’t have to turn it back, His mercy heals and restores in ways we never anticipated. His mercy can do great things, even when situations look impossible. New life comes from Christ.

True repentance does not mean simply feeling sorrow for oneself and panicking in the midst of a crisis. It causes us to accept the real situation, recognising that we have sinned, and then turning to Him, the Lord Jesus who is the only one we can turn to in all confidence and hope. We go to Christ in the sacraments of the Holy Church. We look not for a quick fix or a magic wand that will make me feel good about myself again and settle the unfortunate turn of events, but that we place our trust in the Lord who can turn all to the good in the power of his mercy. While the ways of the devil mimic the ways of the Lord let us not mimic the ways of Judas by seeking healing and mercy in the wrong places and for the wrong reasons.




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St. Eunan's Cathedral, Letterkenny, Donegal, Ireland

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