Each Advent, I commit to reading the daily lectionary, the Bible readings that prepare our hearts for the celebration of Christ’s coming. This year, I’m writing a brief reflection on these readings each weekday. (Apologies for missing yesterday; I was on the road.) It’s Advent, day twelve.
Readings: Isaiah 7:1-9; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; Luke 22:1-13
I always find it odd when the Advent readings take a turn into the passion narrative. Advent--isn't this the season of preparation for the sweet little baby Jesus, swaddled in the manger? But today's Gospel reading (and the readings for the next week) push us into the journey of Christ's cross, and though we won't reach the crossbeams and the nails, we'll come right to the cusp.
Advent is a season of preparation of the heart. Doesn't that preparation require us to ask the hard questions, even questions of betrayal and death? Consider today's Gospel reading.
Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people. Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.
Ah, Judas--the shadow villain, the blackest of biblical characters. How easy it is to dismiss his error, to dismiss him as a man filled with demons. But sometimes I wonder--am I so different?
Are there times I'd sell out my Jesus for bit of extra silver or gold?
Are there times I'd consort with the powerful to secure power, validation, and accolades for myself?
When I'm in secret, when I'm in "the absence of a crowd," do I find myself mired in betrayal and the darkness of my own heart?
That question smarts.
It's the season of heart preparation, and any good heart preparation must wrestle with the harder questions. Among them is this one--am I really so different than Judas?
Ask the questions. Examine the answers. Prepare your heart. The King is coming, coming, coming. He's always coming.
***The Practice of Prayer: Thanksgiving***