Monday, April 26, 2010


Several years ago, a woman was standing on a subway platform in New York City, waiting for a train that would take her to work. As the train approached, a man came up behind her and pushed her onto the tracks. Other people on the platform watched helplessly and in horror as the woman’s body disappeared beneath the cars of the train. The man who pushed her did not run. He stood and watched. He was subdued, thrown and pinned to the ground until the police arrived. A later article reported that he was off his medications. He was deranged, unable to control his actions. There was no crime involved. It was one of those tragic things, the kind of which occur every day in one form or another.
Life slips through our fingers, as much as we want to hold onto it and assume that it is in our control. We stand waiting and can be pushed from behind. We can fall and there is no one to blame. We can do the pushing as well – pushing a person beneath the wheels of slander, gossip, jealousy – those murderous feelings that can spin out of control and can maim, crush, leaving a broken life for others to heal.
Judas is a traitor and a victim. Driven perhaps by a greed for silver, or a jealousy that overwhelmed him, leading him to kiss and then push a man to his death. We do not know. Judas is long gone, having become since a scapegoat, an icon of depravity, the prototype of the suicidal. He lives in religious or popular memory as a victim of the worst temptation imaginable – pushing God beneath the wheels. We may recoil, may wish to distance ourselves, but he is us.
Our Easter Triduun – the three days leading up to Easter – is as yet a fresh memory.. All kinds of levels of identification surfaced within many of us those days. We knew ourselves as the redeemed, as the perpetrators, as the ignorant, as the frightened and helpless bystanders, as the deeply loved and the coldly indifferent. We reached for the best in us and bowed our heads in bewildering sorrow from an awareness of the worst that we harbor in our hearts.
In and through Easter we entered into a deeper awareness of ourselves as the body of Christ, a body very much alive but a mystery to us in terms of how to live from it, carry it, embrace it. We push it and it pushes us. Life passes, and our good deeds are stained by blindness, by sin. Yet in all circumstances we remain his body.
There is no pushing off the effects that are Easter. We must go, enter Easter’s claim and living presence within us with faith and with hope, believing that it is the only way we can listen to who we are and ask God’s mercy for what we have done, and express a kind of gratitude for the presence of love that made Judas aware and made him weep. We have been given a kind of love that can and will save him – and us – from ourselves.

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