We were taught to live in the footsteps of Jesus, yet we ended up walking down the road taken by lesser men.
We came of age, and came into sin. The host became bread, the prayer an excuse for rest and sleep. Rosaries passed through my hand once; now, I hold cigarettes between my fingers. I used to kneel and reflect at the chapel longer than I did eating breakfast. Somehow, I strayed from the path I was raised to follow. Sin, perhaps, was my best excuse to live.
The Church was nothing more than shelter as I entered it again, until I saw the dying figure of Christ again. Judas brought Him there, I remembered; for 30 silver pieces, the King of the Jews was scourged at the pillar and made to carry a heavy cross to Calvary, where He was crucified like a common criminal.
We were taught to follow the path of Jesus. Like many of us, I ended up following the path of Judas.
Judas is a most tragic figure. For someone who followed his own path, he was vilified in some circles, and in some places even praised. He did what he had to do, they say, to let the Crucifixion take place. Yet we are all called – beckoned – to follow the path of a savior. Most of us follow the path of traitors and thieves, and justify that.
I followed the path of lesser men. Here I am, in the Potter’s Field of my life, wondering if there’s any way back to the Garden. I judge myself harshly because the path to emptiness was harsh. We all have betrayed someone, or some ideal, for silver pieces that has taken us to the Potter’s Field. I’m harsh on myself because the cost of my sins was the death of Jesus. I judge myself harshly because salvation is paid for by His blood.
I guess that’s why we follow the path of lesser individuals and meet them at the crossroads ever so often. We all veer from the straight and narrow, choosing easier paths. Not because it’s right, but because it’s convenient. Not because it’s true, but because we’re just being realistic. Every human action is justified by human reason. Even mistakes, errors, betrayals, and a belief in ourselves: invincible, infallible, yet we needed to be saved.
The easier path makes us human, and we explore every depth, crevice, crevasse, and low point of it. We’re exposed to how corrupted and ignorant we can be. We’re just scratching the surface, until we realize we’re all walking the same path to nowhere. It was easy for Judas to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Yet when will we realize that all of this ends at the noose of a rope?
We live our lives by betrayal. We betray the country, we betray our families and friends, and we betray ourselves. We betray our ideals and beliefs, and betray our rectifications. We betray our knowledge, and our ignorance, and are eventually sent astray. With nowhere else to go, what else is there left to do but to go back, to backtrack, and betray everything we ever did?
There is no way out of the Potter’s Field, I realize, since the path I should have walked – the path I was raised to walk – is a long way back. There’s no other way than to forge my own path and hope it takes me back to the right one, where I won’t betray every step of it. Where I would walk along the path of greater individuals who have never set foot in the field. A much harsher road paid for by wounds of penance, that I am worthy for every blow by the hammer on the nail through the hands and feet of Jesus.
I treat myself harshly because Jesus died in such pain and mortification for the sinners of the world. For the moment, at least, follow His example. It’s not a guarantee not to sin, but to be a better person than I already am. To be a better person worth the cicatrices of Jesus. More than that, to be a better person who walks a path better than what I am taking today.
I have come of age, and I have come face to face with sin. I make my journey back to where I think the right path is. The road to redemption isn’t easy. I hope I don’t end up on the end of a rope, hanging from a tree, condemned like Judas was. Until then, every step and every word is for penance, redemption, and peace with myself. Someday, one day soon, I’ll never have to look at a crucifix with a pain deep within again.