1 John 4: 15 to 19 states:
Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God remains in him and he in God. We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.
God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.We love because he first loved us.
- Mary Magdalene
- Judas Iscariot
Mary Magdalene lived a terrible life, so much so that under the yoke of the evil one, she was possessed by seven demons, which Christ in His Authority cast out from her. Lifting her up from her mess and from her brokenness, Mary Magdalene was set on the right course, and henceforth, renounced her old ways to become a fervent disciple of Jesus. She responded to the call of Jesus by never returning to her former way of life, and followed Jesus to the point that she was present at the foot of the Cross. At the Resurrection, she became one of the first of Jesus’s disciples whom the Lord revealed Himself to. In both the Eastern and Western Church, Mary Magdalene is known as the “apostle of apostles”, as she was the one who first carried the Good News of Christ’s resurrection to the other apostles (Holy See Press Office, 2016).
Peter represents the typical response that most of us might probably give – we encounter Christ, are attracted to Christ, we leave our nets behind to follow Him, and are actively involved in ministry and in the service of the Lord. Yet, when faced with the opportunity to witness to our Faith – at the most crucial hour to stand up for our faith, we begin to vehemently deny Christ, even to the extent of cursing ourselves, so as to prove that we are unaffiliated to Christ. This denial could be made manifest in our thoughts, our words, our actions, the things we did, and the things we did not do. We can imagine the intense shame and guilt that Peter felt after almost immediately denying that he knew Christ, when just moments ago he had unabashedly told Christ that he would never betray Him. We are Peter, and Peter is us. We vacillate from boldly ministering in the name of Jesus at one moment, to saying the wrong thing and putting our feet in our mouths the next, by telling the Lord God what He should do. Yet, his response is that of a constant decision for Christ and a continual struggle towards loving God – he never gave up trying to draw near to God, and his response of true repentance and love, redeems his betrayal of Jesus, and makes him a suitable candidate to head the Church as its first pope.
As for Judas Iscariot. he exemplifies the seed that was thrown into thorny ground. He first responded to the Lord’s call to “Come and See”, and was instrumental in the earthly ministry of Jesus. Yet, from the onset we see Judas living a double life, stealing money from the coming fund, reprimanding Jesus for the nard that was being used to anoint His feet, when his intention was to keep the money for himself. Despite the multiple calls to repentance, even to the last moment, he remained stubborn and obtuse. We do see some semblance of a change of heart. He meets the Pharisees and flings their money back at them. Yet, trapped in his guilt, despair, and pride, could not wait to face the Lord and chose instead to hang himself to death. Judas’ response represents a complete and utter denial of Christ and the love and forgiveness of God.
These Easter weeks, what is your response to the Lord going to be? Did His passion, death, and resurrection mean absolutely nothing to you? Did I give up something for lent, only to find myself gorging myself silly on Easter morning with the same vices, addictions, and compensations that I had given up? Our response is a life-changing one. We cannot go back to our old selves anymore.
By the Grace of God,
Brian Bartholomew Tan
Holy See Press Office. (2016, June 10). Mary Magdalene, apostle of the apostles. Holy See Press Office. https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2016/06/10/160610c.html