“The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; Therefore I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.” – Is. 50:7

Back when I was a child attending Catholic elementary school, one of the scandalous insults around this time of the season was, “Don’t be a Judas.” It was tantamount to a curse word for us, but we said it thinking we were such rebels. Of course, to young children the stories heard in the Bible felt like fairy tales and bedtime fables rather than having actual implications, and thus we remained in blissful ignorance.

Yet, reading today’s Gospel made me question how many times I’ve betrayed Jesus in my own way. Perhaps it isn’t for pieces of silver, but how often have I forgone prayer for time to finish a show on Netflix or using tiredness and stress as an excuse not to help others? How many times have I made a mistake and hurt the people I care about?

Jesus knows it, and I know it. I sin. We all do.

But what may be worse is what happens afterwards. Rather than learn from my sins and move on, I dwell on them. I feel ashamed and weighed down by them. I let my sins define me, affecting my relationships, work ethic, and even my disposition and mood. I fall even more into the trap of “being a Judas” where not only do I sin, but I hurt myself further after the fact.

But today’s first reading reminds me that I’m given so many gifts, so many blessings, so much help. I am given the gift of reconciliation, the grace of God’s love, the blessing of knowing God will always be by my side if I allow him to. Even when I sin, I can discern how to do better next time and choose to avoid it next time. Beyond that, God gives me gifts and talents to be more than I can ever imagine. I am not defined by my sins. I am not disgraced. I am a child of God.

When I trip and fall on my journey to follow God, how can I learn from those mistakes and grow rather than continue falling? How can I overcome my shame from sinning and shine as God’s child instead?

I am Your child, Father. I may not be perfect, and I will make mistakes. Please help me to listen to Your voice and Your love instead of being ashamed. Rather than being disgraced, show me how to stand with You as an instrument of Your grace.

Kevin Nguyen