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April 12, 2017


     The article included below, from the Ignatian Solidarity Network, reminds us that we, too, are an active, guilty party of the detachment that crucified Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, the Messiah. We constitute a Church of Judases, we crucify Jesus, over and over again, whenever:

     – We keep silent about the assassination of Onesimo Lopez, the 18-year old Guatemalan immigrant, bludgeoned to death by three white racist teenagers, on April 18, 2015 – From the local bishop down through the parish communities, a lethal, crucifying, thundering silence, screaming out to all migrants: “Crucify them” was heard.

     – We ignore and even oppose Pope Francis’ pleas to transform our opulent parishes into shelters for refugees and immigrants.

     – We embrace the social and political rhetoric of hatred, racism and xenophobia.

     – We applaud executive orders that result in the destruction of our common home, the environment, the good Earth created and loved by God.

    – We refuse to notice, and even react in hatred and violence at the sight of the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the despised migrants, the discarded.

     -We buy into the anti-Francis rhetoric that accuses him, and all contemporary disturbing, subversive prophets like him, of socialism, communism, heresy, and the like.

        Sadly, I look around, I look at the Catholic communities around me, and, on the one hand, I rejoice at those who risk their reputation and even their physical integrity for speaking out against the blatant injustices we are witnesses to, every day – but I also feel the awful pain of frustration at the majority of our parish Catholics who betray their baptismal commitment, and instead, sell their souls and their baptismal consecration for the thirty pieces of silver that buys them popularity, wealth, power, at the expense of the victims of history.

     With rare and difficult-to-find exceptions, we all are a Church of Judases, a Church that crucifies. We crucify the same Jesus who hangs from crosses above the main altar of our churches. We dip our morsels into the same bowl with him-and then we go out into the night, to sell him out, to crucify him  (Jn 13: 26-30).

      For we are a silent Church, a Church that opts for silent arrogance, hatred and racism, in the face of injustice, rather than speak and thunder forth the subversive, disturbing words of the Gospel.We are a Church that betrays and crucifies the Incarnate Son of God.



BY MICHAEL IAFRATE | April 12, 2017

Leonardo Boff once wrote that, just as Jesus died a fully human, political death, Judas was no mere “puppet” in some divine plan, but a “concrete agent, responsible for [his] own decisions.” The church’s traditional name for today, Spy Wednesday, underscores the politics of Judas’ actions—and our own—to betray Jesus and his movement.

In Laudato Si’, we read that Christ is crucified today in the suffering of the poor and of the Earth (No. 241). The Catholic Committee of Appalachia makes this concrete in our recent “people’s pastoral,” drawing attention to “specific crucified places, wounds of Christ in our world… that cry out to be heard and felt.”

Places like Appalachia—crucified on the crosses of poverty, mining, fracking, and poisoned ecosystems—have their own specific Herods who crucify and their own specific Judases who betray. And despite popular rhetoric, these concrete agents are often not “outsiders” but people very close who “dip their hands into the dish with us.”

So many of us are capable of “handing over” the poor, and Earth itself, to death. We are told to trust those who serve us in politics, and yet, as Boff says, “Jesus, we must remember, was sentenced to death in a courtroom.” The poor are condemned there today as well. Likewise, Pope Francis reminds us that church leaders—the apostles’ successors—are no different from the rest of Jesus’ followers in our common capacity to crucify him when we fail to speak against injustice and instead buy into and benefit from it.

Appalachian scholar-activist Helen Lewis writes of the redbud—or “Judas trees”—that blossom at this time of year:

Holding fast in the arms of the mountains, […]
The redbuds… protest the devastation of their living place.

They are also called Judas trees.
Named for the Judas who hung himself in shame from a redbud tree
And dangled the blood money from the branches.
The Flowering Judases blush with shame.

They shout “Shame” to the Judases destroying God’s creation[,]
Crying out for the wilderness: 
Wake up, the earth is being destroyed.
Change your ways of thinking, acting, being.
You are part of all living creatures.

For Lewis, creation itself revolts and shouts “Shame!” to its crucifiers. Followers of Jesus, too, can reject death-dealing silence and speak a prophetic word to shame the crucifiers and “rouse” the crucified (Isaiah).

Silence crucifies, but a prophetic word brings life!

Michael Iafrate

Michael Iafrate is Co-Coordinator of the Catholic Committee of Appalachia (CCA) and served as the lead author of CCA’s “People’s Pastoral,” The Telling Takes Us Home: Taking Our Place in the Stories that Shape Us. He is a West Virginia native, a graduate of Wheeling Jesuit University (’99 and ’03), and is completing a dissertation in theology for the University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto. His writing has appeared in National Catholic Reporter and Religion Dispatches and in the collections Secular Music and Sacred Theology, edited by Tom Beaudoin (Liturgical Press, 2013) and the forthcoming Music, Theology, and Justice, edited by Michael O’Connor, Christina Labriola, and Hyun-Ah Kim (Lexington Books, 2017). He is also a singer-songwriter and old time musician.



St. John of the Cross

“Sayings of Light and Love,” 59


Bl. Charles de Foucauld

Letter to Marie de Bondy,


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