Let No One Go Hungry Away

Copyright © 2015 Molly Sabourin

At bedtime the other night, we started talking about Judas. Just the mention of his name got my younger two fired up, because, seriously, what a jerk for selling out Jesus. “With a kiss, even!” said my daughter, shaking her head in disbelief. Salvation and morality seem pretty black and white at their age, and their righteous indignation toward Judas’s infamous betrayal of Christ speaks to their childlike loyalty to the faith they’ve been born and raised in. Good is good (Jesus) and evil is evil (Judas), and never the two should mingle. “And mom, did you know that Judas…hung himself,” my daughter went on, eyes wide in astonishment at the controversy of it all. At which point I threw them for a loop by gently suggesting his suicide, Judas’s despair,  was indeed the saddest part of that entire Gospel narrative.

With age and experience, you see, come plenteous opportunities for crashing and burning, spiritually speaking. Turning toward Light reveals frailties and dinginess previously hidden by darkness, thus the soul that strives after theosis struggles endlessly against sins brought vividly to the surface upon encountering God’s radiant luminosity. It is most appropriate I be horrified by my pride, lukewarmness and petty preoccupations when confronted by the cross. Remorsefully acknowledging the vast chasm between Christ’s holiness and my brokenness is a necessary precursor to becoming healed by His grace.

 

Copyright © 2015 Molly Sabourin

Falling down is humbling; it keeps us reaching out to Christ for help and forgiveness. Staying down out of shame, however, is a tragic denial of  the death destroying power of the crucifixion and the universal hope of the Resurrection.  Judas fell hard. Only a short time later, the apostle Peter fell hard as well when he too betrayed Jesus, not once, not twice, but three times. Judas became swallowed irrevocably by despondency. Peter, on the other hand, after bitterly weeping and mourning his hypocrisy, rose again from out of the clutches of his self-digust and went on, more fervently than ever, to perform the work of Christ on this earth.  Judas gave up. Peter endured. I share their freedom of choice to either doubt or believe that God’s compassion is far bigger, deeper, wider than the whole of my transgressions.

 

Judas the betrayer was fainthearted and unskilled in battle, and so the enemy, seeing his despair, attacked him and forced him to hang himself, but Peter, a firm rock, when he fell into great sin, like one skilled in battle did not despair nor lose heart, but shed bitter tears from a burning heart, and the enemy, seeing these tears, his eyes scorched as by fire, fled far from him wailing in pain.

And so brothers, St. Antioch teaches, when despair attacks us let us not yield to it, but being strengthened and protected by the light of faith, with great courage let us say to the evil spirit: “What are you to us, estranged from God, a fugitive from heaven and evil servant? You dare do nothing to us. Christ, the Son of God, has authority both over us and over everything. It is against Him that we have sinned, and before Him that we will be justified. And you, destroyer, leave us. Strengthen by His venerable Cross, we trample under foot your serpent’s head” (St. Antioch, Discourse 27).

+ St. Seraphim of Sarov, “The Spiritual Instructions to Laymen and Monks”, printed in Little Russian Philokalia: St. Seraphim of Sarov

 

“Benjamin, look at me,” I told my son, who was trying to wrap his mind around a God so unlike us human beings, who too often hold to an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth way of dealing with each other. “There is nothing you could do, not one single thing that could keep me from loving you. Sure, you could one day make decisions that break my heart, but I’d never give up on you. As your mother, my love for you is innate, reflexive, completely independent of your actions. You know that, right?”

Ben nodded.

“So just imagine, sweetheart, how much more God, who authored that love, who IS that love, loves you and everyone else He has ever created, even Judas. It is never too late to repent and begin  again, no matter the sin, no matter how we many times we stumble.”

You, who like me, find yourselves not so much running as limping this Holy Week toward the cross, the tomb, and the Resurrection, fear not!  Come as you are! Allow the Divine Mercy you cannot earn, only accept with thanksgiving, flood your tired soul with joy and courage! Choose faith! Choose perseverance! Choose to believe that death has been vanquished! Choose to believe your sins are forgiven! Feast sumptuously on the eternal hope that is ours in Christ Jesus!

Copyright © 2015 Molly Sabourin

And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.

Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior’s death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

– from The Paschal Sermon of St. John Chrysostom

4 comments:

  1. Blessings to you for the Feast of Joy, sister! Thank you…I particularly related to the ‘limp’. ..precisely because it is then that we realise our need for Him…

  2. Molly, I thank God for your blog. I read a few of the blogs on the Ancient Faith site, but sometimes the others don’t quite capture a mother’s heart. Your thoughts help me see our loving God as He loves us. May He continue to bless your ministry.

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