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  • Sarah Raad

Everest

“What pleases Jesus is that He sees me loving my littleness and my poverty, the blind hope that I have in His Mercy.That is my only treasure.” (Saint Thérèse of Lisieux).

Angels Announcing the Birth of Christ to the Shepherds (Govert Flinck)

The other day I was watching a biographical film directed by Baltasar Kormakur called “Everest”. This film tells the tragic story of the deaths of eight climbers who died on 10th and 11th May 1996 when they were caught in a blizzard trying to descend from the summit of Mount Everest.


As I was watching the film, I began to reflect on the words of Saint Jerome…

Saint Jerome said, “Christians will not be asked how they began, but how they finished. Paul began badly but finished well. Judas’ beginnings were praiseworthy, but his end was despicable. Many start the climb, but few reach the summit.”

And I have been reflecting on this paradox ever since.


You see, Saint Paul is a fascinating Saint. Once – last year during Holy Mass on a weekday, my younger son, upon hearing the story of the martyrdom of Saint Stephen, which was approved by Saul – who was later called Saint Paul – looked at me with utter shock and said, “But Mum. How can a murderer be a saint? That’s just savage!”


There I sat – all those months ago – inside the church, while a very bewildered child tried to make sense of something that I had long ago rationalised away from all semblances of wonder. There, in that silent church, as that little boy whispered into my ear, the Holy Spirit whispered into my soul and I too was struck with the wonder in his heart…


You see, while at first my little boy’s question might seem rather silly, there is a wonderful merit to be had in observing his wonder...


After all, Saint Paul is such an important saint that his writing not only forms a significant part of the New Testament, but his teaching was pivotal in establishing many of the teachings of the early Church.

Saint Paul, started off by following the rules. He was a Pharisee, and as a Pharisee he was determined to please God by doing his duty. There was only one problem with this approach... Our God does not care very much about duty, but He cares infinitely for LOVE – for ours is a God of LOVE – not duty!

And so, Saint Jerome was correct! Saint Paul – in falling in Love with the Risen Lord – ended very well, despite his rather dreadful start as a murderer!


And I have been reflecting on the life of Judas Iscariot. And what terrible pity I feel for this man of for my Beloved said, “The Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed. It would be better for him if he had not been born.” (Matthew 26:24).


For Judas had all the opportunity in Heaven and Earth. It was Judas who was chosen by my Beloved to sleep under His roof, walk beside His feet, and break bread with Him. It was Judas who was chosen to see miracles…


And yet – Judas betrayed the Son of Man for a mere thirty pieces of silver… He gave away His God – he KILLED LOVE – for a bit of metal.


And how my heart breaks for Judas.


For it was Judas who KILLED GOD for metal, but it is I who KILL HIM for even less.


I kill my God because I am in a frustrated mood. I kill my God through my impatience. I kill my God through anger, and pride and lust and avarice and neglect and a whole myriad of other sins...


And I am offered all the same things that Judas was offered.


I am the daughter of the King and as such, I too have all the opportunity in Heaven and Earth. It is I who is chosen by my Beloved to sleep under His roof – through the sacraments. It is I who is chosen to walk beside His feet through Grace. And it is I who is chosen to break bread with Him and in Him through the Most Holy Eucharist. It is I who is chosen to see miracles – my whole life is a blessed miracle from God – if only I had the wisdom to see it…

And still, I – like Judas – KILL GOD!

There is only one difference between Judas and I… And that difference is that I understand something that Judas did not… Scott Hahn and Brandon McGinley in their book, “It is Right and Just” wrote, “We are not condemned when we fail; we are beckoned and welcomed back ever single time, no matter how many times, so long as we return, as justice demands, with authentic love for the Lord.”


In the end, I am sorry – so terribly terribly sorry. And with sorrow – in the end – I turn to my Beloved and with all the misery in my little heart and soul, I tell Him that I am sorry, and I love Him with all the imperfection in my soul and trust in His infinite mercy and forgiveness and love.


For as Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face said, “What pleases Jesus is that He sees me loving my littleness and my poverty, the blind hope that I have in His Mercy. That is my only treasure.”


And if it was not for that I could not continue on my climb to the summit. If it was not for that…


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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