Morsels of Divine Grace


At the Last Supper, Jesus predicts that he will be betrayed by one of his disciples.
~ John 13:21-33,36-38


Last Supper art by Jean Baptiste de Champaigne

Art by Jean-Baptiste de Champaigne

At the Last Supper, Jesus knew who was about to betray him, so he dipped a morsel of bread in a dish and handed it to Judas, a gesture reserved for honored guests. In different ways, all of us have experienced this gesture from Jesus. Call to mind a time in your life that you were on the brink of betraying God but at the last moment decided against it. Now, try to recall what made you change your mind. Perhaps someone made a remark that made you realize the serious consequences that would follow in the wake of your choice. Or perhaps a passage of scripture, a line of poetry, or a memory from childhood that came unbidden to your mind provided the means of your salvation.

We find an example of one such morsel of divine grace given at a critical crossroads of life in Michael Goldberg’s book Namasake. Goldberg’s lifelong obsession was to track down and murder Klaus Barbie, the man personally responsible for the execution of Goldberg’s father during World War II. After years of pursuing the infamous Nazi war criminal, Goldberg finally cornered him. And as Goldberg was about to kill Barbie, an old Jewish proverb began to repeat itself in his mind. “Every murder is a suicide.” Goldberg let Barbie go. Upon reflection, Goldberg realized that his decision not to kill Barbie had been his salvation. It freed him from his lifelong obsession to kill a Nazi. He accomplished this goal, but not in the manner he had intended. He killed the Nazi that lived within his own heart.

All of us have stood at the precipice of a self-destructive choice. At such moments, God offers us morsels of divine grace, warning us not to take that fatal next step. Even if we ignore God’s invitation of grace, God still offers us salvation in the form of forgiveness.

Judas rejected Jesus’ invitation and eventually hanged himself. But we do not know his final fate, for the offer of God’s forgiveness was as present to Judas at the moment of his death as it was when Jesus handed him the morsel of bread at the Last Supper.

 

~ A Meditation by Fr. Marc Foley, O.C.D.

 

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