Year B Holy Week WEDNESDAY, 31 March 2021
Video Service from St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
"Omission and Commission"
Collect: Lord God, whose blessed Son our Savior gave his body to be whipped and his face to be spit upon: Give us grace to accept joyfully the sufferings of the present time, confident of the glory that shall be revealed; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
A Reading (Lesson) from the Gospel of John 13:21-32
At supper with his friends, Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, "Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me." The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. One of his disciples-- the one whom Jesus loved-- was reclining next to him; Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, "Lord, who is it?" Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, "Do quickly what you are going to do." Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, "Buy what we need for the festival"; or, that he should give something to the poor. So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once."
We see sins in different ways. Some see sins as mortal sins, and some venial. A venial sin weakens the sinner's union with God, it is not a deliberate turning away from him and so does not wholly block the inflow of sanctifying grace. While a mortal sin is defined as a grave action that is committed in full knowledge of its gravity and with the full consent of the sinner's will.
In the Anglican tradition we do not see it this way, but it is similar to how we see it. We speak of things done, and things left undone. Sins of Commission and Omission. There are many things I do not do that I could and maybe should. They are undone, but the things that tend to keep me up at night are the things which I choose to do. Those sins which I commit. I do it. I know I am doing it, and I do it anyway. God help me. God forgive me.
We all tend to “rank” sins. But sin is sin. It is “missing the mark.” An archery term, a sin is the distance between where your arrow hit, and where the bullseye is.
When Peter wanted to know who was going to betray Jesus, Jesus was very clear. And he did not try to stop it. In fact, he says to Judas, his betrayer, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” It is so heartbreaking for me. The Gospel of John says Satan entered him at that moment. But to think of Jesus looking me in the eye, Jesus who loves me and chose me as a disciple, and yet I choose to commit this sin. In John’s Gospel, this is literally moments after Judas had his feet washed by Jesus.
Judas is said to have been upset over the perfume Mary anointed Jesus’ feet which he thought should have been sold so he could steal some of the proceeds.
And sin he committed. He sold Jesus away for thirty pieces of silver, and then regretted his actions. Returning the blood money and then committing suicide by hanging himself. [Matthew 27]
But I am too often like Judas. I am too often like Peter, denying him. But even when I am Jesus still looks me in the eye. Still cleanses me, not literally my feet, but where I truly need cleansing.
I wonder what Jesus would have said to Judas? In the book Three Gospels by Reynolds Price, the author actually speculates what a conversation between Jesus and Judas could have been like. He takes from the verse saying Jesus appeared to all the disciples. And he wonders is even Judas beyond Jesus’ Grace? Are any of us?
I believe we are all loved and wanted, and nothing can separate us from the love of God. When we sin, mortal or venial, intentional or accidental, through things done or left undone. In all of our lostness we all are found. Thanks be to God! Amen